Japanese macaque

(Macaca fuscata)


Japanese macaque IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The Japanese macaque is a medium-sized macaque species with an almost naked pink face, which turns red during oestrus, and is surrounded by a moderately long, yellowis-brown beard. The blackish-brown crown-hairs are directed backwards and are shorter than those of nape and shoulders, the ventral surface of the body contrastingly paler than the back, and the tail is short and tufted tail.


The head-body length is 50-65 cm in males and 47-60 cm in frmales. The tail measures 7 to 9 cm. Males reach a body-weight of up to 11.2 kg, females are considerbly lighter and weigh in average about 4.6 kg.


Newborns are uniformly dark with a flesh-coloured face.

Did you know?
That Japanese macaques invent and transmit new behaviour through learning by imitation? They have learned various behaviours, such as potato washing, wheat washing, swimming and some others. Potato washing was first started by a young female macaque named “Imo” (means sweet potato in Japanese) in 1953. Her behaviour was first imitated by her siblings and mother, then later by all members of the troop except the leader of the troop. At first potato washing was simply used to wash off the sand, but the behaviour evolved to season the potato with salty sea water.


Suborder SIMIAE
Name (Scientific) Macaca fuscata
Name (English) Japanese macaque
Name (French) Macaque japonais
Name (German) Rotsgesichtsmakak
Name (Spanish) Macaco Japonés
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Japan, introduced to Texas, USA
Habitat Different forest types
Wild population M. fuscata yakui, (found only on the island of Yaku): 3,500 (1996) M. fuscata fuscata: > 100,000 (1998)
Zoo population 673 reported to ISIS (2006), but this species is also kept for medical researches

In the Zoo

Japanese macaque


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 31 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
C. Burnett

Why do zoos keep this animal

Zoos keep Japanese macaques primarily for educational purposes, because of their interesting social life, their adaptation to a cold climate, their swimming abilities and food-washing behaviour.


As ambassadors for e.g. the Hakusan National Park, Japanese macaques may be kept in mixed exhibits with Asiatic black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), or sika (Cervus nippon) or Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus).