- Scientific Name:
- Lemur catta/Varecia variegata variegata
- Park Location:
- Ring-tailed lemurs grunt, purr and mew like house cats, and also bark like dogs!
- The name lemur is an old Latin name for ghosts or spirits and refers to their wide staring eyes and preference for moving about at night!
- Ring-tailed lemurs love to sunbathe, they can always be found sitting in the sun with arms and legs splayed wide open, soaking up the heat!
- Ruffed lemurs have an elaborate system of loud alarm barks that alert group members to danger from predators (Snakes, Eagles and Fossas (a cat like carnivore))!
- The ruffed lemur cannot manipulate their fingers as well as other primates and so use specially adapted teeth for grooming!
Lemurs are found on the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa. They are primates and found nowhere else in the world. Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; animals found here are unique to the island.
Scent marking is extremely important for lemurs. It is through this scent that information on age, health, reproduction and territory is passed on within and between groups. Lemurs are mainly frugivores, feeding on fruit, flowers and leaves; however they will feed on insects at certain times of the year.
Black and White ruffed lemur
The Ruffed lemur is the largest of the true lemurs, measuring when full grown, four feet in length including the long tail of about two feet. The black and white ruffed lemur is found in humid rainforests. They live in family groups with 2 to 5 individuals.
Females will give birth to up to 3 infants in a nest in a tree which she has lined with her own fur after a gestation of 102 days. Young will stay with the family for up to 3 years, with males moving off to find a new mate.
Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)
Ring-tailed are the only species of lemur that typically spend a lot of time of the ground. Their body is 1.3feet (40cm) long with a tail of 2 feet (60cm). They weigh between 6-8 pounds/3-3.5kg.
Ring-tailed lemurs live in groups of up to 30. They have distinct female hierarchies that are enforced by frequent aggressive confrontations. Males will change group especially during mating season. Male lemurs use their tails as a means of communicating, they cover them in a pungent scent, waving them about, showing off to the ladies and warning off other males.
Females in the group will give birth within 2-3 days of each other after a gestation period of 135 days.
All lemurs on Madagascar are endangered due to the loss of habitat. Slash and burn agriculture twinned with cutting down trees for charcoal has led to a dramatic loss in habitat for all lemurs. Conservation groups are trying to work with the government and the forestry departments in Madagascar to try and get the forest protected and to stem the destruction of the habitat. There are also captive breeding programmes for lemurs to keep their numbers high.