- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Primates
- Suborder: Haplorhini
- Infraorder: Simiiformes
- Family: Cercopithecidae
- Genus: Macaca
- Species: mulatta
Scientific Name: Macaca mulatta
IUCN Red List Status and Population
Population: The rhesus macaque has a wide distribution and large broad ranges of habitats. It has a high tolerance for habitat degradation, and lives well in human-populated habitats. The rate of decline does not qualify listing in a threatened category (Timmins et al. 2008).
Population Trend: Unknown (Timmins et al. 2008).
Average Lifespan: 4 years in the wild (up to 25 years).
Weight: 8.75-26.5 pounds
Length: 17.5-25 (head and body), 7.5-12.5 in (tail)
Group Name: Troop
Appearance: They range in color from dusty brown to auburn with reddish/pink faces. Their tails are medium length, and are sexually dimorphic (males are larger than females). They are quadrupedal (walk on four limbs), sometimes arboreal (only live in trees) or predominately terrestrial (life on the ground), depending on the region.
About: As an extremely social animal, these primates live in active and noisy troops up to 200 macaques at a time. They are excellent climbers and swimmers.They do not spend much time on the ground. The males are dominant over females but do not permanently remain with the same troop, meaning the females lead the community.
Due to their anatomical and physiological closeness to humans, rhesus macaques are often used for non-human primate research. Because they are easily bred in captivity, rhesus macaques are often used for human and animal health-related research.
Diet: A rhesus macaque’s diet usually consists of roots, fruit, seeds, and bark. They will also eat insects and small animals if available. They are omnivorous as well as diurnal (awake during the day), and also highly adaptable to man-made habitats. In these areas, 93% of their diet can be from human resources by handouts or raiding agricultural lands. Within Indian temples, the primates are worshiped and fed by local people.
Rhesus macaques are preyed upon by raptors, dogs, weasels, leopards, tigers, sharks, crocodiles, and snakes.
Reproduction: Rhesus macaques are sexually promiscuous with multiple sexually active females and males within the troop. Females produce 1 young on average per year, being raised by its mother within the social troop environment.
Current Home Range: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, China (some introduced in the wild in Florida and Hong Kong). They have the widest geographic range of any primate apart from humans.
Rhesus macaques are divided according to the country of origin: Chinese or Indian derived.
They range in color from dusty brown to auburn with reddish/pink faces. Their tails are medium length, and are sexually dimorphic (males are larger than females). They are quadrupedal (walk of four limbs), sometimes arboreal (only live off the group/in trees) or predominately terrestrial (life on the ground) depending on the region.
Although the species itself is generally unthreatened, its original habitat is increasingly being lost to human development. With the increase of macaques inhabiting human populated areas, there is an increase of intolerance for the species. In some areas, the primate is also hunted.
Another threat to wild rhesus macaques is the capture and release of laboratory and “problem monkeys” from rural and urban areas and releasing them into the wild.
- Cawthon Lang KA. 2005 July 20. Primate Factsheets: Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) Taxonomy, Morphology, & Ecology. http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/rhesus_macaque
- “Rhesus Macaque”. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/r/rhesus-macaque/
- Timmins, R.J., Richardson, M., Chhangani, A. & Yongcheng, L. 2008. Macaca mulatta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T12554A3356486. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T12554A3356486.en.