Black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)

Black and white ruffed lemur

Head to Lemur Loop near the giraffes. You'll also find them at Life Among the Trees exhibit, behind Marwell Hall.

Fast facts

Status Critically Endangered

Size Head-body: 43-57 cm; tail length: 60-65 cm

Weight 3.1-3.6 kg

Gestation 138-141 days

Young 2-3

Life span Up to 35 years

What do I eat?

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs are frugivores which means they almost exclusively eat fruit. They also feed on nectar, seeds and leaves at different times of the year. These lemurs use their long snouts and tongues to reach deep inside flowers and lick the nectar. They are very selective feeders, which makes them very vulnerable if their habitat is disturbed.

Where do I live?

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs live in tropical moist lowland and mountainous forests in eastern Madagascar. They are mainly diurnal, which means they are most active during the day.   


Black-and-white ruffed lemurs reproduce seasonally. Mating occurs in early summer, with most offspring born in September and October.  The female usually gives birth to twins which are left in a nest when very young. The black-and-white ruffed lemur infants develop more quickly than many other lemurs.  At around 3 weeks of age they are able to follow their mother and exchange contact calls.  


The main threat to the black-and-white ruffed lemur is habitat loss due to farming, logging and mining. As they are large bodied and awake during the day, they are among the most heavily hunted of all the lemur species, to the point of being unsustainable. In Makira, this is because they are known to be one of the more expensive and desired meats. They are included on CITES Appendix I, which means that international trade of this lemur and its parts is prohibited.

Did you know?

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs often hang from just their hind feet.

The size and shape of the flowers on the traveller’s palm make their nectar a fantastic source of food for the black-and-white ruffed lemur and the lemur is vital in the pollination process for this flower as it collects pollen on its muzzle and fur.

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs build nests exclusively for giving birth and the first few days of the infants’ life.

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Graze Restaurant

Having been an annual member for some years I have been impressed by the continuing improvements at Marwell: Not only to the animal displays but also to the facilities for visitors. In previous years our visits were limited to the summer as a picnic was the only way to ensure palatable… Read full reviewErnie, 11th January 2019