Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 847–856 | Cite as

Deer Mates: A Quantitative Study of Heterospecific Sexual Behaviors Performed by Japanese Macaques Toward Sika Deer

  • Noëlle GunstEmail author
  • Paul L. Vasey
  • Jean-Baptiste Leca
Original Paper


This is the first quantitative study of heterospecific sexual behavior between a non-human primate and a non-primate species. We observed multiple occurrences of free-ranging adolescent female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) performing mounts and sexual solicitations toward sika deer (Cervus nippon) at Minoo, central Japan. Our comparative description of monkey-deer versus monkey-monkey interactions supported the “heterospecific sexual behavior” hypothesis: the mounts and demonstrative solicitations performed by adolescent female Japanese macaques toward sika deer were sexual in nature. In line with our previous research on the development of homospecific sexual behavior in immature female Japanese macaques, this study will allow us to test other hypotheses in the future, such as the “practice for homospecific sex,” the “safe sex,” the “homospecific sex deprivation,” the “developmental by-product,” and the “cultural heterospecific sex” hypotheses. Further research will be necessary to ascertain whether this group-specific sexual behavior was a short-lived fad or an incipient cultural phenomenon and may also contribute to better understanding the proximate and ultimate causes of reproductive interference.


Interspecific sexual behavior Sexual development Learning hypothesis Mate deprivation Reproductive interference 



This study was funded by the following agencies: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB), the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, as well as the Office of the Dean of Arts and Science and the Office of Research Services at the University of Lethbridge. We thank John R. Sylla from the AIB and Penny D’Agnone for help securing AIHS funding. We thank Y. Iwanaga for permission to work at Meiji Memorial Forest Minoo Park and S. Suzuki for valuable information in the field. We thank the Enomoto family of Arashiyama for logistical support in Japan. We thank the Editor and two anonymous reviewers for fruitful comments on a previous version of the article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noëlle Gunst
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul L. Vasey
    • 1
  • Jean-Baptiste Leca
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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