Brief communication: Self-suckling in Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) mothers before and after the death of their infant
Article first published online: 9 JUL 2009
Copyright © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 140, Issue 2, pages 381–383, October 2009
How to Cite
Majolo, B. and McFarland, R. (2009), Brief communication: Self-suckling in Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) mothers before and after the death of their infant. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 140: 381–383. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21125
- Issue published online: 3 SEP 2009
- Article first published online: 9 JUL 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 MAY 2009
- Manuscript Received: 31 MAR 2009
- University of Lincoln
- maternal behavior;
- animal tradition
We report here self-suckling in four wild female Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus), living in two troops (i.e. “Flat face” and “Large” troop) in the middle-Atlas Mountains, Morocco. The four females lost their infants due to predation or for unknown causes. Self-suckling was observed before and after the infants died in the four females living in the “Flat face” troop. When the infants were still alive, self-suckling was of short duration and it was probably a method to improve milk flow when the infant switched from one nipple to the other. After the infants died, self-suckling lasted significantly longer and the females were apparently drinking their own milk. Self-suckling was never observed among the four lactating females in the “Large” troop (including one monkey who lost her infant) and it could thus represent a cultural difference. Moreover, self-suckling after the death of an infant may be explained by the energetic and immunological benefits that a monkey may gain from drinking their own milk. Finally, self-suckling may have a stress-releasing effect on the mothers who have lost their infants. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.