, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 627-638

Infant Handling and Maternal Response in Japanese Macaques

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We focused on the social interactions of infant Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) and on the protective response of their mothers to such interactions. Infant social interactions included: received allomaternal behavior (positive infant handling), hand touch and inspection (neutral handling), and aggression (negative handling) as well as social play. Maternal protective responses included aggression to the infant's interactant and restraining or retrieving the infant. All types of social interactions as well as the maternal response to such interactions showed clear developmental variations. Frequency of infant social interactions and maternal protective responses also showed large interindividual variability. Juvenile and subadult females without maternal experience were the most frequent infant handlers. Infants received positive handling primarily from their kin, while mothers were equally protective in response to positive handling received by kin and by non-kin. Conversely, kin showed higher levels of neutral handling and their interest was more easily tolerated by mothers compared to that of non-kin.