Common names are not officially defined. They are based on everyday conversational language and may differ by country, region, profession, community, or other factors. As a result, it is not unusual for a species to have more than one common name.

Scientific names are in Latin and they are written in italics. They are standardized and for everyone, no matter what language you may speak. They are bound by a formal naming system, called binominal nomenclature, that has strict rules. Scientific names prevent misidentification. Those names only change if a species, or its genus, is officially redesignated by experts.

Rhesus macaques range in geographic distribution from Afghanistan to the Pacific coast of China­­, including India, Bhutan, Laos, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, and Pakistan. They boast the largest native range of any other nonhuman primate species.

  • Clever, adaptable, resilient, and tough—rhesus macaques are unthreatened by most disturbances
  • From semi-deserts to mountain, from forests to cities, and everywhere in between, rhesus macaques are survivors
  • Only humans can boast more diverse geographic distribution
  • Their resilience is exploited when they are used as human models in research
Lowest risk, they are widespread and abundant in their range.

Despite the many disturbances caused by human activities—like deforestation and land conversion—that have brought other species to the brink of extinction, rhesus macaques have adapted well and even thrive. More and more are being displaced and find themselves in or close to urban areas. Those that live near temples can be revered and fed by devotees, but in general, they are not welcome by humans because they destroy gardens, pillage fruit trees, and raid crops. Regular conflicts consequently occur, which often result in the beating and killing of monkeys and severe scratches or bites to humans.

The most significant threat they face is being abducted from their homes for laboratory or biomedical research purposes. Due to their anatomical and physiological closeness to humans, they are the nonhuman primate of choice on which to conduct research on human and animal health-related topics.

  1. Rhesus macaques are intelligent, tough, and independent. As they mature, their needs cannot be satisfied in human homes.
  2. To become pets, rhesus macaques are stolen from their mothers as babies. As a result, they do not develop normally emotionally.
  3. Monkeys are never domesticated. They always remain wild. 
  4. Caged monkeys are very unhappy and frustrated. They are likely to resist confinement. They are quick and cause damaging bites and scratches.
  5. Many locations have strict regulations that prohibit trading in or keeping monkeys are pets.
  6. Rhesus macaques belong with other rhesus macaques in Southeast Asia. They and their habitats must be protected, not exploited.

Visit the RHESUS MACAQUE Primate Species Profile

 Copyright © New England Primate Conservancy 2019. You may freely use and share these learning activities for educational purposes. 
For questions or comments, e-mail us at [email protected].