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Tigers Lions [Lemurs]
All Red Ruffed Black and White Ruffed [Ring-Tailed]        
Ring-tailed Lemurs: (Malagasy Names: Maki, Hira)
Ring-tailed Lemurs

Order: Primates
Suborder: Prosimian
Family: Lemuridae
Genus: Lemur
Species: Catta

The Ring-Tailed 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.

The Ring-tailed 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.

Click Here to Hear Their Growl

The Ring-Tailed 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.

Map of Madagascar

Females are 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!

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