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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Snow Monkeys


Inspired by a story from NewScientist I give you the snow monkeys . The real snow monkeys (Japanese macaques) are small old world monkeys native to Japan. They are the northern-most dwelling non-human primate in the world (image Wikimedia Commons).

These are not your average snow monkeys.

The snow monkey is a large primate, with full grown specimens weighing in at 90 - 100 lbs. They are ground-dwellers, foraging and hunting across a broad territory in packs of 20 to 40 individuals. Their omnivorous diet includes practically anything. In the warmer months they feast on edible plants, roots, nuts and berries, insects and small mammals. They are also proficient hunters, cleverly using their superior numbers and mobility to surround and take down prey as large as deer and caribou. Packs will also scavenge, commonly driving wolves from their prey. Snow monkeys possess strong jaws and well-developed fangs. They will also use stones, bones, ice and tree limbs as missiles.

Snow monkey packs establish a semi-permanent home on near vertical cliffs, taking advantage of any cover provided by caves or crevices. At night they huddle together for warmth while sentries maintain a watch over the pack. They are excellent climbers, traversing ice, stone and wood with ease. During the coldest months of the year the activity level of the pack drops significantly as the group huddles in deep crevices or snow caves, conserving their energy as best they can.

They can communicate over long distances with hooting calls and cries. They are quite intelligent. Some have reported packs using bones and sticks as tools to dig or expand snow caves for protection. Fiercely territorial, snow monkeys will defend their home against any intruder, particularly during the spring months when young are present.

Snow Monkeys have the following characteristics:
  • Good toughness and strength
  • Fair stealth and hide skill
  • Good bite attack inflicting Fair damage
  • Fair throw attack inflicting Average damage
  • Superb climbing skill

Encounters
  • The party crosses paths with a pack of snow monkeys on the hunt. The monkeys will observe the group and attempt to isolate and pick off a party member. They have no fear of humans.
  • The party encounters a pack feeding on a downed deer. The monkeys will ignore the party unless they approach the meal too closely.
  • The party stumbles into a snow monkey den. The pack will attack fiercely, swarming the nearest party member and dragging them away from the others. The typical den should be a precarious battleground for the party due to its location.
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