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Ring-tailed lemurs mainly feed from a wide variety of plants, fruits, flowers, grasses, bark and tree sap. However they are also known to occasionally eat insects, other small animals and bird eggs. These animals will spend most of their days in search of food and moving from place to place.
Lemurs are only found on the island of Madagascar. Ring-tailed lemurs are found within dry forests and bush in South-South West Madagascar.
These animals are very social, living in mixed groups of males and females with up to 25 individuals in a group. Females are more dominant within the group, which is typically led by a dominant female.
Ring-tailed lemurs will often give birth to twins, but single infants are more common. When born the offspring will cling to the mother and will start to learn to climb at around 3 weeks old. The whole troop will usually be involved in the upbringing of young within the group, and young lemurs are often passed around. They are weaned from their mothers at about 4-5 months old; and reach maturity at around 2-3 years old.
The main predators of ring-tailed lemurs include snakes, birds of prey and the fossa, the largest predator found in Madagascar.
To stay safe, they will look out for any approaching danger. If a predator or other threat is seen then they will make alarm calls to the rest of the group, which will also alert other animals to a nearby threat. Groups of ring-tailed lemurs are also known to mob and attack potential predators to stay safe.
There are many threats facing ring-tailed lemurs in the wild, one of the biggest of which is habitat loss. The demand in land for agriculture, burning of trees for charcoal and areas for a growing human population has increased in recent years. This has had a severe negative effect on not just lemurs but other native and unique wildlife that can only be found in Madagascar. Lemurs are also facing threats from hunting for meat, and also being caught and sold as pets.
The ring-tailed lemur is a protected species, being found in protected areas across its range, including six national parks. Many of the best remaining patches of forest are found on sacred lands. International trade of the ring tailed lemur is also banned by law.
Size Head and body length: 38.5-45.5 cm. Tail length: 56-62.5 cm
Weight 2-3.4 kg
Gestation 4 ½ months
Life span Up to 20 years
Lemurs are not monkeys or apes, they are known as ‘prosimians’, a primitive form of primate; many prosimians are only found on the island of Madagascar.
Ring-tailed lemurs will sun bathe; they will sit upright and face towards the sun with their arms up at their sides, in a ‘sun worship’ posture.
Male ring-tailed lemurs will settle disputes by ‘stink fighting’; this involves rubbing the scent glands on their arms along their tail, and then flicking their tail in front of them. The smelliest lemur wins!
Ring-tailed lemurs are very vocal animals, they can make up to 28 different types of calls, varying from meows, purrs, chirps and wails.