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Snow monkeys live in large troops that can contain more than 500 animals. Average group size, however, falls between 40 and 200 individuals. Females usually run the show, and remain with the same group for life. Young males eventually outgrow their mothers’ troops and join up with different ones.
Forest dwellers, snow monkeys spend time both on the ground and in the trees. Their home ranges are small, usually less than two square miles. When not foraging, feeding, or resting, they spend lots of time grooming one another. Snow monkeys are quick learners, and individuals have been known to invent new behavior patterns, like washing dirt off sweet potatoes.
Omnivores, snow monkeys eat mostly bark, twigs, leaves, and fruit, but also insects, eggs, and small vertebrates. They are also known to eat some agricultural crops, such as potatoes, peas, and melons, which causes conflict with farmers.
Female snow monkeys normally have one baby, which weighs around a pound at birth and nurses for one year. Sometimes a mother’s troop-mates will help care for her young. Babies reach maturity by 4 years old. They can live up to 30 years in zoos.
Some of My Neighbors
Mountain hawk eagle, red-crowned crane, whooper swan, Steller’s sea eagle
Population Status & Threats
The conservation status of snow monkeys is still being assessed. Though they are traditionally protected in Japan, their population has declined due to deforestation and persecution by people who consider them a threat to crops.
WCS Conservation Efforts
The Central Park Zoo’s snow monkeys are part of a Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program that helps to maintain healthy populations of the animals in zoos throughout the U.S.