All images used with the permission of their photographers
Most people are aware that animals groom themselves, and monkeys, as well as other primates, are particularly well known for grooming each another – an activity known as social grooming or allo-grooming. Yet what to make of those monkeys that groom totally different species? We’ve got a wonderful collection of images and videos showing this unusual – and pretty cute – behavior.
Image: Sappho Books
In this clip, a couple of cheeky monkeys are grooming a deer whilst sat at the top of the holy mountain, Mt Misen, in Japan. It certainly looks a tranquil situation!
While some might see social grooming as altruistic behavior – one creature is cleaning another – most agree that the interaction is more of a mutual exchange, as the groomer gets something from it too. Among animals of the same species, allo-grooming is seen to strengthen kinship bonds and other social relationships, so what benefit might the monkeys be deriving from it here? After all, they’re clearly not related to the deer – and if they think they are, they’re clearly suffering from a pretty strange identity crisis!