Meet the Monkey Who Likes to Floss

Do you floss regularly?

It's no secret that most people do not floss like they are supposed to. Even though we know how important it is (and even when we visit the dentist for our regular cleanings and check ups), some of us still can't make it a daily habit. Since most adults don't take the time to floss, it's easy to imagine why many kids don't practice this healthy dental habit either. Are you struggling to get your kids to remember to floss daily? Perhaps this story might interest them and remind them to get out that dental floss.

Meet Chonpe!


Video Courtesy of Discovery News

Chonpe, a Japanese monkey, has become a regular flosser. That's right, a monkey who flosses her teeth. Chonpe is a free ranging macaque monkey who lives in a park in Japan where she and her troop are given food rations throughout the day, so she can use her time for grooming instead of hunting and foraging.

How did she learn how to floss?

It’s not unusual for macaque monkeys to run their teeth through each other's hair to remove undesirable things. It is thought that perhaps a hair got caught in Chonpe's teeth and when she removed it, she licked the food particles off which motivated her to check between other teeth as well with that same piece of hair. She has since become quite the flossing expert and can be seen flossing several times a day.

Does she floss just like a human?

Chonpe flosses in a few different ways. Sometimes she will use the hair on her body or that of another monkey's to run through her chattering teeth. Another way is that she will actually hold the intact hair in place while flossing her teeth. She'll do this with her own hair or with that of another monkey. The last method she uses to floss is most like a human, in which she plucks a strand of her own hair and moves it back and forth between her teeth like a piece of dental floss.

Is Chonpe the only monkey to do this?

Chonpe is definitely special, but there have been other monkeys who have been observed flossing their teeth. Other macaque monkeys have been seen flossing near a Buddhist temple in Thailand. However, these monkeys are quite comfortable with humans and have even been known to pluck hair from people's heads to use for flossing. 

Chonpe's habit has even rubbed off on her own troop and several monkeys have been spotted flossing the same way Chonpe does. Its also been noted that chimpanzees and orangutans have been seen using twigs as toothpicks regularly.

So humans aren't the only ones that feel a need to keep their teeth healthy and will also search for tools to help them do so. Let's just be grateful we have dental floss available instead of using hair and twigs. Perhaps Chonpe will inspire your kids or even you to start flossing on a more regular basis.

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