Animal Awareness Tip – Lemurs

Maideline Sanchez

The Ring-tailed Lemurs live primarily in Madagascar, which is an island located southeast of Africa. They are notable for their vivid striped tails that contain a black and white coloration. These tails are only used for balance, communication, and group cohesion. The rest of their body is covered in grey, while their faces are completely white with dark black fur encircling their eyes. They are omnivorous and also the most terrestrial of their other close relatives. They are classified as diurnal primates, meaning that they are mostly active during the daytime.

The lemur may range in size from 39cm to 46cm long and can weigh between five to seven pounds. They are equipped with teeth that resemble a comb for grooming, and they also contain a toilet-claw for raking fur that is unreachable by the tooth-comb. Lemurs spend much of their time, about thirty-three percent, on the ground and the rest of their time in trees.

A group of Lemurs make up a troop and consist of an average of 15 lemurs, with the highest number of members being 30. Within their habitat, their natural predators include the Fossa, Harrier-Hawk, Madagascar Buzzard, and Ground Boa. They are considered opportunistic omnivores, because they eat anything including fruits, leaves, decayed wood, soil like substances, insects, spiders, and small vertebrates such as birds and chameleons. Fifty percent of their diet, however, includes fruits and leaves of the tamarind tree.

Ring-tailed lemurs are polygamous, and their breeding season runs from mid-April to mid-May. After mating, typically a female will birth one to two offspring during the month of September to October. Offspring will latch onto the mothers’ chest for the first one to two weeks. Then they will relocate themselves onto their mothers’ backs. After two months of drinking their mothers’ milk, they will commence to eating solid food. Sexual maturity is reached between two and a half and three years. These animals can also live up to 19 years or up to 27 years in captivity.