Barbary Macaque: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Interesting barbary macaque facts that are informative and knowledgeable.

Barbary macaques, also known as Macaca sylvanus, are the only African monkeys known to live North of the Sahara, and also one of the species that dwell in cold climates. They belong to the genus Macaques. Barbary macaques are primates with great distinctions, they are the only monkeys that live outside Asia. These monkey species live in groups and are matriarchal in nature, where females are dominant and oversee the entire group, including male Barbary macaques. They are omnivorous and their diet mainly consists of insects and plant-based food. One thing to consider is that these animals do not own tails like some other species of monkeys, but have vestigial tails, which means they have evolved and their tails have disappeared.

Barbary macaques, Macaca sylvanus, generally groom each other to reduce their stress level and to strengthen their bonds with each other in a group. When they chatter their teeth, it's actually their sign of being friendly towards one another. Climate change is a major threat to their lives and habitats since they live in the wild. They have a presence in several places, including Morocco and Algeria, and there are roughly 250 of these monkeys living in Gibraltar. They are the only free-living primates in Europe, besides humans.

If monkeys are something that interests you, you may also want to check out Japanese macaque facts and gibbon facts.

Barbary Macaque

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Leaves, roots, fruits, insects

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1 infant

How much do they weigh?

313-493 Oz (8.9 to 14 kg)

How long are they?

Up to 24.8 in (63 cm)

How tall are they?

2.2 ft. (70 cm)

What do they look like?

Brown, Yellow, Gray

Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Forests, Rocky Ridges, Grasslands, Woodlands, Scrub, Oak Forests, Mountains


Atlas Mountains, North Africa





Scientific Name

Macaca sylvanus





Barbary Macaque Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Barbary macaque?

The Barbary macaque is a type of monkey species.

What class of animal does a Barbary macaque belong to?

Barbary macaque belongs to the Mammalia class of animals.

How many Barbary macaques are there in the world?

Even though Barbary macaques are endangered, their total population is unknown. They have also been sold as pets, which is a threat to their population.

Where does a Barbary macaque live?

Barbary macaques are primates who mostly live in the wild forests, grasslands, woodland, rock, and some in snowy regions too. They can also be found in tropical rainforests. They prefer to live in places with abundant food and a good climate. Barbary macaques often stay in trees and shrubs where they spend the night and rest.

What is a Barbary macaque's habitat?

Barbary macaque, Macaca sylvanus, habitats can be found in high-altitude mountains, gorges, cliffs, and also at sea level. Their primary preference for their habitat consists of cedar forests, oak forests, shrubby or rocky regions in the wild, and occasionally grasslands. They are distributed across the north of the Sahara, Europe, North Africa, Morocco, and Algeria. They are the only macaques that are distributed outside of Asia. Macaques also live in Gibraltar too.

Who do Barbary macaque live with?

Barbary macaques generally live and stay in groups, each with their own family, consisting of the young and parents.

How long does a Barbary macaque live?

Barbary macaques have a different lifespan. Males tend to live for about 25 years, while females can live up to 30 years old.

How do they reproduce?

Macaque species are sexually active, and mating is quite common when the female is in her most fertile period. Mating happens n November and ends in December. Barbary macaques are polyandrous as the males and females mate with multiple partners. Females initiate or terminate matings when they have mated with nearly all males in their troop, and they often continue to copulate even when it is impossible to conceive. At the end of the breeding season, all the females combined can copulate hundreds of times between them. Even though male Barbary macaques have little influence over their mate, dominant individuals usually mate more. Female dominance offers priority access to food and leads to better energy and greater reproductive success. Females give birth to one infant at a time and the occurrence of twins at birth is quite uncommon. Once the infants are born, they practice something called 'alloparenting', where the whole group takes care of the infants. A Barbary macaque reaches sexual maturity at around four years old. By the age of around 20 years, female Barbary macaques are known to go through menopause.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN has listed the Barbary macaque as Endangered since their population is decreasing. Their threats are climate change, deforestation and predators like cheetahs, tigers, snakes, making it necessary to give attention to their population. The commercial pet trade has also contributed to their declining numbers.

Barbary Macaque Fun Facts

What do Barbary macaques look like?

The female Barbary macaques tend to live longer than the males.

Barbary macaques are primates covered with thick hair, which allows them to survive in cold climates. Their body color ranges from dark grayish brown to yellowish gray. Their stomach and chest have lighter colorations than the rest of their body and they have a dark pink face color. They have fangs in their mouths. They do not have tails, and if visible they are really short ranging from 05-1 inches in length. They also have large cheek pouches for carrying food. The male and female have differences in their size, where the male is bigger than the female.

How cute are they?

Barbary macaques are quite cute, and the fact that they live in troops and their helpful, friendly nature contributes to it.

How do they communicate?

Young Barbary macaques communicate with their mothers for their basic needs through vocalization, while the mothers communicate with their offspring with body postures and facial expressions. They scream, make calls, and grunt to communicate with their troop.

How big is a Barbary macaque ?

Barbary macaques have a body length with a range of 22-24.8 in (56 to 63 cm), and they are five times smaller than apes.

How fast can a Barbary macaque run?

The definite speed of how fast these animals can run is unknown.

How much does a barbary macaque weigh?

Barbary macaques have a weight range of 16-28 lb (8.9 to 14 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

These primates are simply known as Barbary macaques, and the males and females do not have separate names for their descriptions.

What would you call a baby Barbary macaque?

Baby Barbary macaques are known by several names, including infants, babies, offspring, and young.

What do they eat?

Their diet consists of insects, leaves, and fruits, as they are omnivorous in nature.

How active are they?

These animals live in troops or as a group and exhibit very active behavior.

Would they make a good pet?

Barbary macaques are sold as pets through the pet trade for those who wish to raise them. They have a friendly nature and are loving towards their owners. However, those raised as adults tend to feel alone since they are used to staying in a group with their own species.  Those raised as a pet as an infant tend to associate well with their owners.

Did you know...

Barbary macaques can live in troops of up to 100 individuals.

Their name has been derived from the Barbary Coast in Northwest Africa.

They have large cheek pouches which can hold food as much as their stomach.

Are Barbary macaques apes or monkeys?

Even though apes do not have tails, the Barbary macaques are monkeys. Sometimes, they are incorrectly known as Barbary apes.

Why are there no monkeys in Europe?

Geologically speaking, primates in Europe were wiped away 9 million years ago, Barbary macaques are the only primate that has remained in the region. Due to climate conditions, monkeys have migrated to other regions from Europe. They are believed to have been wiped away with the ice age because some didn't adapt to the cold climate. However, these animals have evolved over the years and stayed in several regions, and have adapted to survive in several weather conditions.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the white-cheeked gibbon and the field vole.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable macaque coloring pages.



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