Quick and Easy Navigation
Lemurs of Madagascar
The Ring tailed lemur is one of the 112 species of lemurs. Lemurs are primates endemic to the island of Madagascar. They are the smallest of all the primates and belong to a group called prosimian primates. The ring tailed lemurs are the most widely recognized of all lemurs due to its beautiful and long ringed tail. Also, they are often used as a symbol to represent the island of Madagascar and all its endangered wildlife. The most famous ring tailed lemur is King Julien, from the movie Madagascar
Facts About The Ring Tailed Lemur
- They are furry, with gray and brownish bodies, white faces and chests, and black and white rings on their tails.
- The tail is longer than the body.
- They weigh about 5 pounds, and measure around 18 inches with a 21- inch tail.
- Locals in Madagascar call the ring tailed lemur “Maki”.
- Unlike most other lemurs, they spend a lot of time on the ground rather than in trees. They spend most of the time in the mid-canopy or forest floor, unlike other lemurs who climb high up to the top of the trees.
- They are widely distributed throughout the dry forests of southwestern Madagascar. This area is the hottest, driest, and least hospitable forest in the country.
- In the mornings, they like to seat facing the sun to warm up. They sit with their arms outstretched and they look like they are meditating.
- Most lemurs are nocturnal but the Ring Tailed lemur is one of the few who are diurnal and active during the day.
- They are highly social animals and live in large groups called “troops”. The troops are made up of up to 30 Lemurs but the average is 17.
- Females dominate the troop. They huddle together to keep warm and to reaffirm social bonds.
- Adult female lemurs stay within the troop they were born into. Male lemurs are likely to move from one troop to another.
- They are omnivores and eat mostly fruits and leaves. They prefer the leaves of the Tamarind tree. But because they spend a lot of time on the ground, they also eat bark, small insects, and spider webs.
- Ring tailed lemurs are exceptionally clean animals. After feeding, they groom themselves thoroughly, using their comb-like teeth and the long claw on the second toe of their hind foot called a “toilet claw”.
- Ring tailed lemurs have powerful scent glands and they use this strong smell to communicate with each other and also as a weapon.
- They mark their territories with their scent, and during mating season, male Ring Tailed Lemurs participate in stink fights to battle for mates. They rub the scent glands they have on their wrists on their tails and wave the stinky tails at each other. The smelliest one wins!
- The average lifespan in the wild is up to 18 years.
Learn More About All Lemurs and/or The Unique Sifaka Lemur
The ring tailed lemurs is currently listed in the IUCN Red List as endangered. Although the population is declining in the wild, they are the most populous specie of lemurs in zoos worldwide. It is estimated that there are about 2,000 of them in captivity. Their biggest threat is habitat destruction. Satellite images suggest that ring tailed lemur habitat is vanishing at an even greater rate than forest habitat in other parts of Madagascar.