Crab-eating macaque

Crab-eating macaque

Macaca fascicularis

Common name:

Crab-eating macaque

Scientific name:

Macaca fascicularis

Alternative common names:


Male crab-eating macaques have moustaches, while females have beards. They are also called long-tailed macaques, due to their exceedingly long tails. Infant crab-eating macaques are born black, and change colour as they mature. With broad diets, these monkeys mainly eat fruit, but also feed on items such as insects, bird eggs and as their name suggest, crabs.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Southeast Asia

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 2

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Western Cape

How does it spread?

It has been introduced to some regions by means of live-trapping for export and medical research. The local dispersal methods are characterized as self-propelled and naturally spreading.

Why is it a problem?

The crab-eating macaque is rated by the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group as being among the 100 World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species. They are highly adaptable because they are generalist feeders. If expanding outside their original range, the may be responsible for the extinction of forest bird species.

What does it look like?

Description: It is a crab-eating macaque or long-tailed macaque 38-55 cm long with a tail, 40-65 cm in length, weighing 4-8 kilograms. The males and females are both born with black fur, which turns a grey to dark brown or yellowish-brown with lighter underparts and crown hairs which form a small crest. They are active during the day, highly adapted for swimming and climbing trees with tails used for balance when leaping between trees. They have an average group size of 30 individuals.

Habitat: They live in coastal, swamp, and forested areas near water and are found in higher densities near riverbanks and lakeshores. Also found in tropical rain forests characterized by warm, humid climate and heavy seasonal rainfall. They favourably utilize secondary forest, especially if it borders human settlement, where they have access to gardens and farms to cause damage to the entire crops and ruining the plants in addition to stealing the fruits or vegetables.

Breeding: Males reach sexual maturity at approximately 6 years of age, whereas females mature by about 4 years of age. After a pregnancy of 7 to 8 months the females will give birth to a single infant. New-born are sparsely haired and dark and weigh about 150-470 grams.

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