Habitat and Distribution: Found only in the forests (rainforest, subalpine, deciduous, gallery, spiny bush) of the African island of Madagascar
Size: 15-18 inches tall; 5-8 pounds
Wild Diet: Fruit (especially tamarind), leaves, flowers, sap, bark, and occasionally birds and insects
Predators: Raptors, fossas, domestic dogs and humans
Lifespan: 15-18 years in the wild; up to 27 years in zoos
Reproduction: Ring-tailed lemurs are ready to mate at 2-3 years. During the breeding season (mid-April through June), males compete for dominance by wiping secretions from wrist glands onto their tails and flicking them at opponents. After a 4-5 month gestation, a single infant is born weighing up to 3 ounces. It hangs on its mother’s stomach for at least 2 weeks, then rides on her back. After 2-3 months the infant begins exploring on its own and eating solid foods. Babies are weaned after about 5 months.Behavior: Ring-tailed lemurs are diurnal and highly social. They live in female-dominated social groups, called “troops," including up to 24 members. Males will move between troops, but females usually stay in the troop they were born into. Lemurs engage socially by grooming, sunbathing, and communicating with a complex set of body postures and vocalizations. Ring-tailed lemurs spend most of their time in trees, but spend more time on the ground than other lemur species.
IUCN Status: Near Threatened
The habitats of ring-tailed lemurs are being compromised by logging and livestock ranching. They depend on trees for their arboreal lifestyle; without forest protection in Madagascar, they will soon have nowhere to live.
The ring-tailed lemur has a Species Survival Plan®. Read more.
Did you know?
- Females baby-sit and form playgroups with the young of other females, and may even allow those infants to nurse.
- The tamarind tree is considered a keystone resource for the ring-tailed lemur because it provides up to 50 percent of the total food consumed during the year. The tamarind produces fruits and leaves at alternating times of the year, providing a constant food source.