Detroit Zoo Snow Monkey

Japanese macaque (snow monkey)

At the Detroit Zoo

The Japanese macaque habitat is home to six females and one male, whose social structure is built around lineage. At the top of this matriarchal society is Crissy, followed by her daughters, Carmen, Laura and Griffin. During feeding time, these four are the first to eat. They are also the most-often groomed by the habitat's other residents. The bottom rank includes Madeline and her daughter Lynda. These two are the last to eat – which accounts for their smaller size – and spend the most time grooming the troop's higher-ranking members. This helps establish and maintain the hierarchy among them. The females are joined by Denny, the only male of the group, who is unrelated to any of the females. Denny is more dominant during the breeding season, which runs October through February, when the females will compete for his attention, and he is more submissive the rest of the year. The Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys, can often be seen basking in the warm steam from their hot tub and entertaining guests with their playful antics in their habitat next to the lions in the Asian Forest.


The Japanese macaque has a stout body, strong limbs and a short tail. Its coat has long, dense fur that varies in color from brown to grey. Each adult has exposed red skin on its face and posterior.


Scientific nameMacaca fuscata fuscata

Continent: Asia, only in Japan

Habitat: Broadleaf, deciduous and evergreen forests

Size: 1 to 2 feet; tail can be 2 feet

Weight: Males can be 24 pounds; females can be 18 pounds

Diet: The Japanese macaque is omnivorous, eating leaves, fruit, berries, seeds, small animals, insects and fungi.

Reproduction:Gestation 173 days; single infant

Lifespan: 18-24 years

Conservation Status: Least Concern


The Japanese macaque is thought to display culture, or learned behaviors, by passing on knowledge through a troop and potentially through generations. 


The Japanese macaque can be seen sitting in naturally occurring hot springs to avoid extreme winter conditions.