Lemurs are social animals, usually living in family groups of 10-20 females. Since females are dominant, male lemurs generally migrate into other groups or form groups with other bachelors. To keep warm, ring-tailed lemurs often huddle together or sunbathe while sitting upright. Ring-tailed lemurs, like all other lemur species, possess special scent glands which they use to mark their territory. Males perform a unique scent marking behavior called “spur marking.” These lemurs are extremely vocal and use numerous calls to communicate with one another. During breeding season (mid-April to mid-May), female lemurs stagger their receptivity to males, thereby reducing the competition for male attention. The responsibility of rearing infants falls primarily on the mother’s shoulders, as male involvement is limited, although the entire troop (regardless of age or sex) may participate in caring for their young together.

Ring-tailed Lemur

Lemur catta

Habitat: Forests in Madagascar

Diet in the wild: Fruits, leaves and other plant parts, sometimes insects

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Bread, primate browse biscuit, spinach, lettuce, grapes, raisins, apple, banana, carrot

Size: 15-18 inches long (not including tail).

Family: Baby lemurs cling to their mothers’ underside for the first two weeks and then ride piggyback.

Status: Endangered

Did you know? Males will participate in “stink fights” by covering their tail with scent from special glands on their body and wafting the smell at their opponents

Red-Ruffed Lemur

Varecia variegata rubra

Habitat: Arboreal forest dweller of eastern Madagascar

Diet in the wild: Leaves and fruit

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Spinach, lettuce, grapes, apple, orange, banana, raisins, carrot, bread, primate browse biscuit

Size: Weighs 8-9 lbs.; 19-22 in. tall with a tail length of 20-15 in.

Family: Red-ruffed lemurs live in monogamous family units—adult mated pair with youngsters. When ready to give birth, nest is built. The female pulls hair out to line the nest for the young. It is common for these lemurs to have twins and sometimes even triplets. This is the only primate that leaves its nest to forage (not a usual primate characteristic). At about 5 weeks of age, the young can climb trees

Status: Endangered due primarily to deforestation

Did you know? This lemur is the largest of the living lemur species. The red-ruffed lemur is generally crepuscular (active in mornings and evenings) but will often “sunbathe” early mornings. The beautiful thick reddish fur of this lemur is an excellent adaptation for living in the rainforest since even a heavy downpour of rain cannot penetrate to the skin

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