Where do they live?
- Pigtail macaques reside in lowland areas and hilly primary forests of Southeast Asia. They are dispersed throughout northern India, southern China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Borneo.
What do they look like?
What is their social life like?
- There are two different Pigtail macaques; the Northern Pigtail macaque and the Southern Pigtail macaque. They are very similar in appearance with slight variations. Southern Pigtail macaques have olive brown fur with lighter, white underbellies. Their forehead has a darker fur mark covering it. The Northern Pigtail macaques have golden brown fur on their bodies, brown on the top of the head, and have a reddish line extending from the corner of their eyes to their ears. On both, the body fur is long. When pigtail macaques are born they are all black and as they mature their adult coats start to come in.
- They are sexually dimorphic, so the males are larger in size than the females. Males measure between 495- 564 mm (1.62- 1.85 ft) and weigh between 6.2- 14.5 kg (13.7- 32 lbs.). The females are 467- 564 mm (1.53-1.85 ft) in length and weigh between 4.7-10.9 kg (10.4- 24 lbs).
- Males also have much larger canine teeth compared to the females. Larger teeth come in handy because the males exhibit more aggressive behavior.
- They received their common name due to their tails resembling pig tails. They are short and are carried in an erect backwards arch over their backs. They are also mostly hairless, except for a few sparse hairs.
- They walk quadrupedally (on all fours) on the ground and can also be found foraging in the low levels of the canopy.
What is their social life like?
- These monkeys live in large social groups ranging from 9-81 individuals and are multi-male, multi-female groups. Because of these large groups they often split up into smaller foraging groups to decrease food competition. These smaller groups are comprised of about 2 to 6 individuals and they forage in the groups together. They have a large home range so each smaller group has to spread out wide in order to find food resources.
- They are diurnal, so they forage for food during the day.
- Females stay in their natal group, the group that they were born into. These monkeys exhibit a matrilineal hierarchy, so the females are the dominant sex.
What do they eat?
- Pigtail macaques are highly frugivorous. About 74% of their diet consists of fruit. When fruit availability is low they can turn to young leaves, plant stems, insects and fungus.
- They mostly forage on the ground. Northern pigtail macaques have been seen in trees more than the southern species. They are known to raid different agricultural crops from local villages. This has caused problems for human- monkey interactions. Many primatologists are studying the effects that these crop raids have on both humans and monkey. Scientists are trying various tactics to help prevent monkeys from crop raiding without harming them.
- Some farmers have trained Pigtail macaques to help them collect their crops, like coconuts and other fruits, from their trees.
- Pigtail macaques are listed as a Vulnerable species. Like many primates, these monkeys are threatened by habitat destruction. Most of the destruction is happening for logging and land clearing for human agriculture. They are also killed for food and captured for the illegal pet trade and laboratory testing.
Video courtesy of ARKive.org
Written by Heidi Giancola, July 2016