Lemurs are highly social animals. 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

Distribution: Forests and shrubland of south-eastern Madagascar

Diet in the Wild: Leaves, flowers, insects, fruit and occasionally small vertebrates

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Monkey chow with varied fruits, vegetables and greens

IUCN Red List Status: Endangered, population decreasing

Threats: Habitat loss to forest burning and livestock overgrazing, hunting, and increased drought frequency in southern Madagascar.

Interesting Facts:

Ring-tailed lemurs live in social groups, which may include as few as 3 lemurs or as many as 25 lemurs.

Ring-tailed lemurs are great communicators. They utilize vocal, visual and olfactory methods of communication to keep in touch with each other. Vocal calls are made to alert other ring-tailed lemurs to danger or to coordinate group movements. Facial expressions are used to communicate how individual lemurs are feeling, similar to how we use our facial expressions to express our feelings. Olfactory cues secreted by scent glands on the arms and chest of a ring-tailed lemur are used to mark trees, indicating foraging paths to the rest of the group.

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