These animals live farther north than any other non-human primate, in places where snow covers the ground for many months of the year, earning them the name “snow monkeys.”
These snow monkeys – more formally named Japanese Macaques (muh-kaks) – are native to deciduous and evergreen forests of Japan, including the islands of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. These animals are famous for bathing in naturally occurring hot springs to avoid the extreme winter weather conditions.
Japanese macaques are omnivores and eat leaves, fruits, berries, fungi, insects and small animals. Males weigh around 25 lbs (11 kg) and females on average weigh 18 lbs (8 kg). They live in troops with rigid social structures, infants inherit the ranking of their mothers.
These primates have shown signs of culture, or learned behavior, by passing on knowledge and behaviors throughout the troop and through generations. Some will even wash their food – like sweet potatoes and wheat. This behavior is said to have been learned by a single female and passed on through other members in her troop. They’ve even further developed this behavior by washing food in seawater to add a little salty seasoning to their meals.