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Self-suckling in Barbary Macaque (Macaca sylvanus) mothers before and after the death of their infant

By Bonaventura Majolo and Richard Mcfarland


We report here self-suckling in four wild female Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus), living in two troops (i.e. ‘‘Flat face’’ and ‘‘Large’’ troop) in the middle-Atlas Mountains, Morocco. The four females lost their infants due to predation or for unknown causes. Self-suckling was observed before and after the infants\ud died in the four females living in the ‘‘Flat face’’ troop.\ud When the infants were still alive, self-suckling was of\ud short duration and it was probably a method to improve\ud milk flow when the infant switched from one nipple to\ud the other. After the infants died, self-suckling lasted significantly longer and the females were apparently drinking their own milk. Self-suckling was never observed\ud among the four lactating females in the ‘‘Large’’ troop\ud (including one monkey who lost her infant) and it could\ud thus represent a cultural difference. Moreover, self-suckling after the death of an infant may be explained by the energetic and immunological benefits that a monkey\ud may gain from drinking their own milk. Finally, selfsuckling\ud may have a stress-releasing effect on the mothers\ud who have lost their infants

Topics: C800 Psychology
Publisher: Wiley Interscience
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1002/ajpa.21125
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