Your phone’s home security app just alerted you of trouble. You rush to check the surveillance footage hoping to catch the thieves. Instead, you see a pack of monkeys wandering around your home. They’ve managed to open the door to see what they can take, but they’re not after material stuff. They want to kidnap your baby. What in the Planet of the Apes is happening here?
In July 2022, Japanese macaques terrorized the city of Yamaguchi, Japan, and at least 58 people were injured in the process. These attacks were not happening in hot springs where the macaques are usually found, but in city streets, in backyards and in people’s homes. Even a baby was injured during a foiled macaque kidnapping attempt. What diseases could these monkeys give you? How would they enter your home? And how could a coat save your life?
Step 1. Keep Them Outside
Authorities are calling them gangs for a good reason. These are bandits. A closed door won’t prevent them from entering your place. They’ve been breaking in by pushing out window screens and opening sliding doors. So make sure to use a lock on those at all times until the situation is under control.
Step 2. Use a Coat
If you see one, do your best to not trigger an attack. Don’t engage in behavior they might take as challenging, such as making eye contact or moving quickly. Instead, spread your arms, coat or whatever you have on to make yourself look as big as possible and back away slowly.
Step 3. Bring an Umbrella
Japanese macaques aren’t the biggest primates out there. An adult male usually won’t grow to be more than 1 m (3 ft) tall and weigh 14 kg (30 lb). But underestimating them can be a deadly mistake. They’re armed with sharp claws and teeth that can do a good job of slicing and dicing you. Having makeshift weapons nearby to fend off a ferocious attacker, like scissors or even an umbrella, is a good idea.
Step 4. Cover Your Stomach
The pack is running rampant and despite your best efforts to deescalate the situation, they might still go after you. They usually attack by cleverly sneaking up behind you and grabbing your legs. The most important thing you can do is to protect your neck, face and especially stomach. It’s one of the macaques’ favorite targets, and we probably don’t need to remind you that it also houses some of your vital organs.
Step 5. Get Treatment
You were lucky enough to walk away from the attack with just a few scratches and bites, but don’t brush it off. These monkeys can carry diseases that can be passed to you through their saliva or body fluids.You could become infected with herpes B, hepatitis E or Ebola. Pay your doctor a visit so they can put you on the meds you might need. This monkey gang was tough and you fought it off.
- Chilling Out in Hot Springs May Help Japan’s Snow Monkeys Reduce Stress. Katz, B. (2018). Smithsonian Magazine.
- Gang of marauding monkeys terrorizes a Japanese city attacking dozens of people, reports say. Zitser, J. (2022). Insider.
- Japan’s police to take measures after wild monkey rampages. BBC Staff (2022). BBC News.
- ‘Monkey gang’ member executed in Japan as marauding macaques run amok. Whitcomb, I. (2022). Live Science.
- Monkey put down but hunt still on after attacks in Japanese city. Agence France-Presse in Tokyo (2022). The Guardian.