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Animal Detail ViewՄանրամասն` նրանց մասին


Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta)

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia

Orde: Primates

Family: Cercopithecidae


Species: Macaca mulatta


With an expressive face and active lifestyle, the rhesus macaque is a charismatic species. Its coat is pale brown above and fades on the underside, but the naked face and rump are bright red in adults. It has large cheek pouches which it uses to store food when foraging. Audebert, who named the rhesus macaque, did so after the Greek King of Thrace, Rhesos, but emphasized that it had no special relevance. Since, the name rhesus has been extended to the hereditary blood antigen 'Rh-factor' which was discovered on the red blood cells of rhesus macaques and was also found to be present in humans.

Habitat and Range 

Still widespread across southern Asia, the rhesus macaque has nevertheless become locally extinct in some of its former range. It has been introduced into Florida, USA as well as to Cayo Santiago Island near Puerto Rico, and is kept in captivity in large numbers worldwide due to its common use in research. This species has even been a participant in space travel.

The rhesus macaque occupies an enormous range of habitats and climates, ranging from snow-covered mountains through dense forests to semi-desert and urban areas.


The rhesus macaque has a multimale-multifemale social system. This species can be said as having a promiscuous mating system, females have a tendency to mate with extra group males. Females remain in their natal group with the onset of maturity, but males will disperse shortly before adolescence, although some males do stay in their natal group for a few years into adulthood. Males tend to migrate with their maternal half brothers or with peers. There is a hierarchical system amongst group members based upon the matriline. Social grooming is used to strengthen bonds between females. Groups can split into smaller groups when their population is expanding. There is intergroup dominance, meaning that one group of rhesus macaques may be dominant to another group of rhesus macaques for such things as food resources. Males and females are both aggressive during intergroup encounters.


The dietary habits of rhesus monkeys can vary greatly depending upon where they live. Macaca mulatta is omnivorous, and often eat roots, herbs, fruits, insects, crops, and small animals. The diet can also vary with the season. For example, rhesus that live in the mountain forests of northern Pakistan feed primarily on clovers during the summer, but during winter when snow covers the ground they are forced to switch to foods with lower nutritional values and higher fiber contents, such as pine needles and oak leaves. These monkeys seem to choose their environments carefully with respect to food resources. Even when they are forced to switch to lower quality food sources during the winter months they do not exhibit higher mortality rates, although they may lose a considerable percentage of their body weight.


Females reach puberty around age three while males are sexually mature by age four. The ovarian cycle lasts for 28 days and is characterized by the darkening of the skin surrounding the anogenital region accompanied by menstruation. Estrus lasts for eight to 12 days, with the day of ovulation occurring at the midpoint of the estrus period. Females have increased sexual activity during ovulation, exhibiting the highest number of copulations seen during the ovarian cycle. Females reproduce from three until about 20 years of age. Males reach puberty between three and 3.5 years of age but do not reach adult body size until about eight years old. Though males are capable of reproducing by age four, they are not reproductively successful until after age eight, or when they reach adult size. During this time between becoming sexually mature and when they begin to mate, young rhesus macaques are learning the social skills, including fighting ability, that will influence their success throughout their lives. Both males and females reach sexual maturity sooner in captivity. There is marked birth seasonality in rhesus macaques, with the majority of mating occurring in October through December and births coinciding with the end of the rainy season, or during the period of highest food abundance. At Cayo Santiago, the mating season is much longer and begins in July and lasts until December. High-ranking males have more opportunities to mate with females than low-ranking males, but do not always sire a disproportionate number of infants. Lower-ranking males may have similar reproductive success compared to high-ranking males because they are new immigrants and are more attractive to females because of this. From one breeding season to the next, females will drastically reduce the amount of mating they do with familiar males and over a period of three years, they try not to mate with any familiar males given the opportunity to mate with unfamiliar males. During the breeding season, females enter into consortships with one or more males. An individual female will spend longer amounts of time in contact with, grooming, and mating with these males. Males and female rhesus macaques are promiscuous breeders, mating multiple times with multiple mates. Both males and females initiate these consort relationships and competition for access to mates is related to the high levels of aggression seen in rhesus macaque groups during this time of year. Gestation lasts 164 days in rhesus macaques and the interbirth interval is between 12 and 24 months. If a female does not have a successful pregnancy or her infant dies in the first year of life, she is more likely to give birth the following season than a female who successfully rears an infant.

Economic Importance

Macaca mulatta is a popular zoo animal because of its innate curiosity and active lifestyle. These monkeys are also used extensively for research. They are especially useful in biological, medicinal, and psychological research. Macaca mulatta is most often used in psychological research when the emphasis is on perception, learning, or behavior.

In India, rhesus monkeys do significant damage to crops and gardens in many areas. Because they are viewed as sacred animals by Hindus, often little is done to stop them from stealing crops. As is true of most nonhuman primates, there is a high risk that they could carry diseases which affect humans.

Conservation Status

This species is listed on CITES Appendix II. It is also listed in Schedule III in the Bangladesh Wildlife (Preservation) (Amendment) Act, 1974 and in Schedule I, Part I in the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act (amended up to 2002), on Category II of the Chinese Wildlife Protection Act (1989), and is protected with all other primates in the Nepalese National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973. Protection status varies widely throughout the species range.
Rhesus macaques reside in a large number of protected areas throughout their range.


Whilst the rhesus macaque is threatened in the wild, a large captive population is maintained around the world for use in biological, psychological and medicinal research, especially for studies into perception, learning and behaviour. In the wild, the rhesus macaque is a generalist with great adaptability, allowing it to make the most of changes in land use. In India they are known for crop-raiding but their status as sacred animals in the Hindu religion prevents persecution by humans. Interspecies breeding is known to occur but appears to have no effect on the offspring's fertility, as other interspecies crosses usually do.

Short Facts

-Rhesus macaques like to enter the water and are agile swimmers.

-In India where love of animals is part of the religion, these monkeys have very successfully adapted to man's civilization.

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