, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 191–203 | Cite as

Mother-infant contact and maternal maintenance activities among free-ranging rhesus monkeys

  • Rodney L. Johnson


Mother-infant dyads were observed among three populations of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) in India and Nepal. Physical contact between mothers and infants, essential for effective maternal care in rhesus, was found to be influenced by the mothers' feeding behavior. As early as the second week of life, infants exhibited a diminished probability of being in contact with their mothers if their mothers were feeding rather than resting. Rhesus mothers disproportionately rejected their infants within feeding contexts, indicating that mothers were actively discouraging contact attempts by their infants during feeding bouts—perhaps because an active infant, if it remained in contact, would diminish its mother's foraging efficiency.

In contrast to the mothers' feeding behavior, mother-infant contact was found to be little influenced by maternal locomotion. Most infants were found to be neither disproportionately in, nor out of contact while their mothers were in motion. However, as the amount of time mothers spent walking increased, so did the probability that infants would be carried. These data suggest that rhesus mothers behave so as to minimize their energetic costs during locomotion.

Key Words

Mother-infant contact Maternal care Rhesus monkeys Infant independence 


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodney L. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderU.S.A.

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