Macaques: The Surprise Solution To Rat Problems!

We may see our usual monkeys as these cheeky creatures that sometimes steal our food, but step aside and make way for…. rat-killing monkeys!

macques; the surprise solution to rat problems!Photo: Anna Holzner/University of Leipzig

Scientists have recently discovered that monkeys have regularly been used as pest control in palm oil plantations, eating rats which we can all agree are probably worse off as pests. The Southern pig tailed macaques generally feed on small fruits and the occasional small birds or lizards.

So, it was rather shocking for scientists to see them gnawing on a full-size rodent!

"I was stunned when I first observed that macaques feed on rats in plantations. I did not expect them to hunt these relatively large rodents, or that they would even eat so much meat” Nadine Ruppert, a senior zoology lecture at the Universiti Sains Malaysia told The Telegraph.

macques; the surprise solution to rat problems!

Photo: Anna Holzner/University of Leipzig

The report monitored macaques between January 2016 and September 2018 in plantations around Malaysia’s Segari Melintang forest reserve. The findings showed that some 44 monkeys were responsible for killing around 3,000 rats each year! The macaques would hunt them when they are sheltered inside trees, making them easy prey. Rats are estimated to cause damage on 10% of oil palm crops by eating its fruits, hence the macaques are seen as more of a crop saviour rather than pests in this newfound study.

The Southern pig-tailed is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) as there are regularly shot by palm oil plantation workers who commonly mistake them as pests.

Hopefully this new revelation can help better protect the macaques, the unsung superhero of the palm oil plantations!

By: Siti Farhana Sheikh Yahya