How to Become the Snow Monkey Alpha Male
  • How to Become the Snow Monkey Alpha Male

    The Japanese macaques have a strong hierarchical society, with every monkey holding a certain position. At the top of the food chain the alpha male, the monkey boss. The number 1 monkey of the Jigokudani Monkey Park is called Tomamu95, and he’s been in power since August 2017.

    Monkey boss and monkey group

    Tomamu95 is the monkey in the front, and one of the biggest of the group. You can recognize him easily by a large scar on his lip.


    You need to know a little about the monkey society to understand about alpha males. The rank of females is often determined by the rank of their mother. The female monkeys pass down their position in the hierarchy to their female offspring. The rank of males on the other hand, changes all the time. Males usually leave their birth troop upon early maturation, between age 5 and 8. From this time on, they will enter and leave several monkey troops, or stay by themselves for years. Once they found a group that accepts them, they might stay for several years.

    Snow monkeys in the forest

    Usually the rule is the longer you are with a group, the higher your rank in the group. Also, the better your relationship with the alpha female, the higher the chance of the male becoming boss monkey. Tomamu95 was with this group for a great many years before he tried to become alpha male. Also, he has been a favorite for most females in mating season for a long time now.

    Number 2 monkey

    Photo courtesy of @Jigokudani Yaenkoen

    The most typical way to become alpha is by death of the former alpha or if the former alpha leaves the group for whatever reason. The alpha male could lose his rank because of another monkey being stronger and more suitable for the role. In the case of Tomamu95 becoming alpha, he aggressively approached the former alpha and won a scuffle with the former alpha. The former alpha, as seen below, now roams the mountains by himself, having been upset by Tomamu95.

    Snow monkey boss in bath

    That a certain monkey is alpha male doesn’t mean that there are no other male monkeys in the troop. The alpha male is dominant and respected by other monkeys, but he has a second in command and other underlings. The second in command at the moment, Toami00, is young (only 17 years old) and strong. He could become a challenge to Tomamu95 as he sometimes makes play for the position of alpha.

    Number 3 monkey

    Photo courtesy of @Jigokudani Yaenkoen

    If you want to see the monkey dynamics in real life, visit the Snow Monkey Park!