Names: Maki, Hira)
Lemur is found on the South and Southwestern part of Madagascar,
an island located of the Southeastern tip of Africa. This lemur
adapts well and inhabits many different types of forests within
its home range. From lush wet forests to the extremely dry scrubland,
the Ring-Tailed Lemur can be found. Although significantly higher
population densities occur out side of the drier habitats.
Lemur is the best known of all of the Madagascar lemurs. Ninety
percent of all people who know what a lemur is, picture the Ring-Tailed
lemur in their mind. The most striking feature of this lemur is
its remarkable ringed tail! Averaging 24 - 30 inches in length,
the tail alternates with white and black rings about an inch wide.
While walking on the ground, the lemur will carry its tail high
over head. The tail is used not only for counter balance while
jumping from tree to tree but for visual and chemical communication
as well! Ring-Tailed Lemurs of both sexes have special glands
located on their inner forearms near their wrists. If one sits
down and observes these animals for any period of time they will
surely notice the animal dragging and raking their tails between
their pressed forearms. This behavior is more prominent with the
males during agonistic interactions with each other. Once their
tails are sufficiently covered with the secretions of their wrist
glands, the lemur will wave and vibrate their tail sending both
a visual and a chemical communication signal.
Here to Hear Their Growl
Lemur is primarily terrestrial. Spending more time on the ground
then any other lemur species. They live in large groups consisting
of upwards of 20 or more individuals. These groups contain multiple
males and females with the females being dominant over males.
Females will stay with the social group they were born into. The
males will often transfer from one group to another, insuring
a better genetic diversity. Each group has very defined non-overlapping
territory. The females, who run and scream at each other, defend
these territories. During these territorial disputes, actual physical
contact is rare.
The diet of Ring-Tailed Lemurs consists of flowers, fruits, leaves,
tree sap and some barks. Occasional, Ring-Tailed Lemurs have been
observed consuming insects. The proportions of these food items
vary from forest to forest. The fruit of the Tamarind tree is
one of its favorite food items. Although primarily terrestrial,
the Ring-Tailed Lemur can be seen feeding from all forest strata,
from the forest canopy, to the forest floor.
known to be sexually mature at three years of age. Mating in this
species begins in April with most births taking place in August
and September after a 134-138 day gestation period. Female Ring-Tailed
Lemurs usually give birth to single infants but twins are not
uncommon. Unlike the Ruffed Lemur, the Ring-Tail does not make
a nest for her offspring. Her baby(s) will cling to her belly
for two weeks, actually traveling with her. After two weeks the
infants move to a riding position on her back. The infant mortality
rate in the wild is high. Within the first year, half of all infants
die, with only 40% reaching maturity. Habitat destruction, and
predation by birds of prey and the Fossa play a big role in this
high mortality rate.
Of all the Malagasy primates the Ring-Tailed Lemur has the highest
population densities. Although they are the most abundant species
of lemur on the island, the Ring-Tailed Lemur is still scarce
in terms of absolute numbers. There numbers are falling everyday
due mainly to the destruction of their habitat. The native people
practice a destructive agricultural technique called "Slash
and Burn" agriculture. Basically setting fire to old growth
forests to clear land for farming. The soil is so nutritional
poor that it can only sustain a crop for a season or two. Then
the entire process is repeated!
The Ring-Tailed Lemur is currently classified as ENDANGERED by
the United States Department of the Interior (USDI) and is listed
on appendix 1 of CITES.
Currently the Sanctuary houses a pair of these amazing animals
(Zoro and Beju). Please check back often as we plan on placing
cameras in their habitat in the near future.
For more information
on Lemurs, go to Duke
University. The most comprehensive primate website!