Reaction to snakes in wild moor macaques (Macaca maura)

Clara Hernández Tienda*, Víctor Beltrán Francés, Bonaventura Majolo, Teresa Romero, Risma Illa Maulany, Putu Oka Ngakan, Federica Amici*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Snake predation is considered an important evolutionary force for primates. Yet, very few studies have documented encounters between primates and snakes in the wild. Here, we provide a preliminary account of how wild moor macaques (Macaca maura) respond to seven species of real and model snakes. Snakes could be local and dangerous to the macaques (i.e., venomous or constricting), local and nondangerous, and novel and dangerous. Macaques reacted most strongly to constrictors (i.e., pythons), exploring them and producing alarm calls, and partially to vipers (both local and novel), exploring them but producing no alarm calls. However, they did not react to other dangerous (i.e., king cobra) or nondangerous species. Our results suggest that moor macaques discriminate local dangerous snakes from nondangerous ones, and may use specific cues (e.g., triangular head shape) to generalize their previous experience with vipers to novel species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-532
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Pythons
  • Snakes
  • Vipers

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