Why Do Monkeys Steal Other Monkeys Babies?

One of the closest predecessor to humans are the monkeys. They come in diverse shapes and sizes and are found all over the world. Known for their chaotic and mischievous behavior, monkeys are self-willed too, which often leads to fighting.

Interestingly, they follow the hierarchical system strictly, and when it’s about to take over another group, they brawl out for deciding the strongest one.

Coming back to the topic, the question of “why do monkeys steal other monkeys’ babies” can be divided into some of the hypotheses presented by the researches in this field.

Hypotheses for Stealing The Baby Monkeys

The stealing of the baby monkeys doesn’t happen often but there are hypotheses of why they might resort to this. There are four scientifically accepted reasons for this activity.

1. Competition for Resources

Though the monkeys usually don’t resort to killing or steal other babies of their own and others, they give their priority to food and other resources more than anyone. If a particular area has fewer resources for too many, they might steal other baby monkeys and kill them. As infants can’t fight for their survival, they are the easy ones to target.

Female monkeys don’t really resort to this kind of savagery, but the male-dominant monkeys are the ones (although few but it happens anyway). Whereas if the dominant one of the group is a female, they try to exploit unrelated monkey’s babies except her own. There are very few cases of the mother killing their own babies but it happens when the mother identifies the baby might not make it or to invest her time on the rest of their children.

2. Sexual Competition and Selection

Usually, when a group of monkeys with their leader take over another group, the dominant male steals the babies from their mothers or kills them to remove the infants of others and copulate to have their very own offspring. In this way, this will establish their child having his genes and also maintaining a relationship with the females.

The infants become easy targets as they are defenseless, and the mothers don’t rebel as the whole group would either eliminate or isolate her. DNA analysis also proved that the parents wouldn’t necessarily kill a child of their own. For protecting their young ones, the females try to form a social bond with the males.

3. Infertility of Superior Females

The female monkeys may snatch or steal babies from their mothers as they are incapable of producing offspring due to infertility. So, infertility also plays a factor in why the babies of monkeys get stolen from another one. A female of an inferior position faces the problem of their babies getting stolen by the superior ones. They can’t rebel against the superior ones as she might be treated as an enemy or killed for going against them.

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4. Other Exploitation

When resources are almost not there or almost starving to death, the monkeys might resort to exploiting other infants as a source of nutrition (cannibalism). The babies are used for their own survival if they are almost at the brink of death.

Another reason for exploitation might be the non-lactating females, where the babies are starved to death as they don’t receive the milk from their mothers.

Why Do Monkeys Steal Other Monkeys Babies?
Mother and Baby Monkey

Adaptations for Protection of the Babies

Paternity Confusion

One of the best counter adaptations for protecting the monkey babies from getting stolen or killed is paternity confusion against the dominant males. The female monkeys can have concealed ovulation to hide the paternity of the fertilization, and as a result, it is not killed by the dominant males.

The female monkeys can also have multiple partners, so it’s another way to safeguard paternity, and it is the most prevalent option that they follow to save their babies.

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Getting Physically Involved

The most brutal way to save their babies from any sort of danger is fighting against the ones who want to steal or kill the baby. This is the foremost defense mechanism that is followed by the mother monkeys. They try to fight if its one on one and not the whole group, but she gives up her baby if there is no way she can survive.

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Abortion and Weaning

The female monkeys may also resort to abortion if they face a takeover by another group. The aggressive dominant males might fear them into resorting to face this ultimatum.

If the risks of baby monkeys being stolen or killed are high, the females tend to wean their babies in order to get accustomed to the environment and perceive things on their own quickly.

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FAQs on Why Do Monkeys Steal Other Monkeys Babies?

1. Why the baby monkeys taken from their mothers?

The baby monkeys get taken from their mothers for different reasons like:
– Competition for Resources.
– Sexual Competition and Selection.
– Infertility of Superior females.

2. Why do baby monkeys cling to their mothers?

The baby monkeys cling to their mothers as they feel safe, loved, and cared. If the hostile monkeys are around, the mothers cave to their tantrums as well.

3. Why do monkeys steal human babies?

The monkeys naturally don’t resort to stealing human babies but when faced to scarcity of food and resources they might steal human babies (if they are around) for their own nutrition.