, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 275–278

Interspecies sexual behaviour between a male Japanese macaque and female sika deer

  • Marie Pelé
  • Alexandre Bonnefoy
  • Masaki Shimada
  • Cédric Sueur
News and Perspectives


Interspecies sexual behaviour or ‘reproductive interference’ has been reported across a wide range of animal taxa. However, most of these occurrences were observed in phylogenetically close species and were mainly discussed in terms of their effect on fitness, hybridization and species survival. The few cases of heterospecific mating in distant species occurred between animals that were bred and maintained in captivity. Only one scientific study has reported this phenomenon, describing sexual harassment of king penguins by an Antarctic fur seal. This is the first article to report mating behaviour between a male Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata yakui) and female sika deer (Cervus nippon yakushimae) on Yakushima Island, Japan. Although Japanese macaques are known to ride deer, this individual showed clearly sexual behaviour towards several female deer, some of which tried to escape whilst others accepted the mount. This male seems to belong to a group of peripheral males. Although this phenomenon may be explained as copulation learning, this is highly unlikely. The most realistic hypothesis would be that of mate deprivation, which states that males with limited access to females are more likely to display this behaviour. Whatever the cause for this event may be, the observation of highly unusual animal behaviour may be a key to understanding the evolution of heterospecific mating behaviour in the animal kingdom.


Heterospecific mating Sexual harassment Primate Macaca fuscata yakui Reproductive interference 

Supplementary material

Supplementary video file: Movie of sexual mounts of a Japanese macaque male on two different deer: (MP4 87498 kb)

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EthobiosciencesResearch and Consultancy Agency in Animal Wellbeing and BehaviourStrasbourgFrance
  2. 2.Issekinicho EditionsStrasbourgFrance
  3. 3.Department of Animal SciencesTeikyo University of ScienceUenoharaJapan
  4. 4.Département Ecologie, Physiologie et EthologieCentre National de la Recherche ScientifiqueStrasbourgFrance
  5. 5.Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert CurienUniversité de StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance

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