The primates had been known to eat fruits, insects and even dirt
Anna Holzner/Macaca Nemestrina Project
Behavioral ecologist Anna Holzner recalls first seeing a southern pig-tail macaque munching on a headless rat. These monkeys were known to eat fruits, insects and even dirt, but nobody had reported them eating rats. “It was funny,” says Holzner, “and disgusting.”
This unexpected act occurred dozens of times from March to August 2016 as Holzner, of the University of Leipzig in Germany, and colleagues recorded what the macaques ate on oil palm plantations in northwest Peninsular Malaysia. To planters there, the macaques are pests.
Holzner did the work as part of the Macaca Nemestrina Project led by primate ecologist Nadine Ruppert of Universiti Sains Malaysia, in Penang. She presented the results on July 2 at the annual meeting of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation in Kuching, Malaysia.
While pig-tail macaques, Macaca nemestrina, spend