Grooming site preferences determined by lice infection among Japanese macaques in Arashiyama


I investigated the effect of the density of louse eggs (Pedicinus obtusus andP. eurygaster) on grooming site preferences in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). Louse eggs were more often found on the outer side of the body (upper back, lower back, outer arms, and outer legs) than on the inner side of the body (chest, belly, inner arms, and inner legs). Japanese macaques were more likely to be groomed on the outer side than the inner side of the body by allogrooming and autogrooming. Such grooming site preferences correlated with the distribution of louse eggs but not with the areas of body parts. Thus, the ecology of lice might affect grooming behavior of Japanese macaques. Five hundred and fifty louse eggs were estimated to parasitize an adult female Japanese macaque. Considering the intrinsic rate of natural increase of lice, monkeys need to be groomed almost every day. This suggests that Japanese macaques need grooming partners and form social bonds with others for everyday grooming.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Barton, R. 1985. Grooming site preferences in primates and their functional implications.Int. J. Primatol., 6: 519–532.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Blanc, G.;Woodward, T. E. 1945. The infection ofPedicinus albidus RUDOW the maggot’s louse on typhus carrying monkeys (Macaca sylvanus).Amer. J. Trop. Med., 25: 33–34.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Boccia, M. L. 1983. A functional analysis of social grooming patterns through direct comparison with self-grooming in rhesus monkeys.Int. J. Primatol., 4: 399–418.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Borries, C. 1992. Grooming site preferences in female langurs (Presbytis entellus).Int. J. Primatol., 13: 19–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Evans, F. C.;Smith, F. E. 1952. The intrinsic rate of natural increase for the human louse,Pediculus humanus L.Amer. Naturalist, 86: 299–310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Ewing, H. E. 1935. Sham louse-picking, or grooming, among monkeys.J. Mammal., 16: 303–306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Furuya, Y. 1957. Grooming behavior in the wild Japanese monkeys.Primates, 1: 47–68. (in Japanese)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Hutchins, M.;Barash, D. P. 1976. Grooming in primates: implications for its utilitarian function.Primates, 17: 145–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Kettle, D. S. 1990.Medical and Veterinary Entomology. C · A · B International, Oxon, UK.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Kitaoka, S. 1961. Physiological and ecological studies on some ticks: VII. Parthenogenetic and bisexual races ofHaemaphysalis bispinosa in Japan and experimental crossing between them.Natl. Inst. Anim. Hlth. Quart., 1: 142–149.

    Google Scholar 

  11. McKenna, J. J. 1978. Biosocial functions of grooming behavior among the common Indian langur monkey (Presbytis entellus).Amer. J. Phys. Anthropol., 48: 503–510.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Nakayama, T.;Hori, T.;Nagasaka, T.;Tokura, H.;Tadaki, E. 1971. Thermal and metabolic responses in the Japanese monkey at temperatures of 5 – 38°C.J. Appl. Physiol., 31: 332–337.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Reichard, U.;Sommer, V. 1994. Grooming site preferences in wild white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar).Primates, 35: 369–374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Sánchez-Villagra, M. R.;Pope, T. R.;Salas, V. 1998. Relation of intergroup variation in allogrooming to group social structure and ectoparasite loads in red howlers (Alouatta seniculus).Int. J. Primatol., 19: 473–491.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Saunders, C. D.;Hausfater, G. 1988. The functional significance of baboon grooming behavior.Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci., 525: 430–432.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Tanaka, I.;Takefushi, H. 1993. Elimination of external parasites (lice) is the primary function of grooming in free-ranging Japanese macaques.Anthropol. Sci., 101: 187–193.

    Google Scholar 

  17. T-W-Fiennes, R. N. 1972. Ectoparasites and vectors. In:Pathology of Simian Primates, Part II,T-W-Fiennes, R. N. (ed.), Basel, New York, pp. 158–176.

  18. Zinsser, H. 1934.Rats, Lice and History. The Atlantic Monthly Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



About this article

Cite this article

Zamma, K. Grooming site preferences determined by lice infection among Japanese macaques in Arashiyama. Primates 43, 41–49 (2002).

Download citation

Key Words

  • Grooming
  • Ectoparasites
  • Hygienic function
  • Macaca fuscata
  • Lice