May 2005 — Long-Tailed Macaques

BY ANGELA HIJJAS

We have a large colony of long-tailed macaques in the compound, and they have an interesting social structure. While the adults forage around the trees further afield, they leave the babies in a ‘nursery’ with one or two adults to keep an eye on them. These are not the really tiny ones, but are large enough to play with each other and practice the many skills they will need as adults. One favored location for the nursery is on the ‘assam gelugor’, Garcinia atroviridis, trees outside my bathroom. I think this is because the foliage and branching are dense enough to allow many ready handholds in case of falling. A favorite game is King of the Castle on top of the tree, and as a result the lead shoot is constantly pruned…

Macaca fascicularis or long-tailed macaques, can be distinguished from the langurs by distinctive head shape, more pinkish faces and more muscular bodies. Long-tailed Macaque has the longest tail of any Asian macaque, similar in length to its head and body. Body fur varies from grayish-brown to reddish. In Thailand, these macaques are most common in coastal areas and along large rivers, but farther south they are found in a range of habitats including hill forest, lowland forest, plantations and secondary forest. Diet is omnivorous, including invertebrates such as shellfish or crabs, as well as nestlings, small mammals, fruits and leaves. May become a pest, raiding rice crops, fruit orchards or vegetable gardens and entering towns or houses to scrounge for food. Highly gregarious, being found in troops of up to 70 individuals. Gives birth to a single young after gestation of five or six months. Range is generally south of Rhesus macaque, M. mulatta, in southern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Philippines.