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 World of Lemurs behind Marwell Hall.

Fast facts

Status Critically Endangered

Size Head and body length: 51-60 cm. Tail length: 56-65 cm

Weight 3 – 4.5 kg

Gestation 3 – 3.5 months

Young Usually 2-3 offspring

Life span 15-20 years in the wild, up to 36 years in captivity

What do I eat?

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs will mostly feed on a wide variety of fruit (frugivores), however they are also known to eat seeds, leaves and nectar. These animals will spend most of their day foraging for food.

Where do I live?

Lemurs are only found on the island of Madagascar. The black-and-white ruffed lemurs live in low to mid-altitude rainforests where they spend most of their time in large trees high above the forest floor.


Black-and-white ruffed lemurs are very social animals and will live in groups of males and females, however females are more dominant. These animals can mate from the age of 20 months, and their breeding season is between May and July. Black-and-white ruffed lemurs will give birth in nests made in trees which they will even use their own fur to line.

If the young need to be carried, the mother will carry them around in her mouth, which is very different to other lemurs where their young would hold on to the mother instead. Young black-and-white ruffed lemurs are able to leave the nest from 3 weeks old and by 7 weeks old they are able to follow their mother and keep up with the rest of the group.


Their main predators are large birds of prey and the fossa, the largest predator in Madagascar.

To stay safe, black-and-white ruffed lemurs will make loud alarm calls if they see any predators or threats nearby. This then alerts the group to run to safety but also alerts other animals that there is a threat close by.


Main threats to the black-and-white ruffed lemur in the wild include over hunting for food and its fur but also habitat loss due to logging, agriculture, mining and creating more human settlements.  Much like other lemurs in Madagascar, these animals are protected by law and are found in many protected areas, however poaching continues to be a problem.

There are many conservation projects in place to protect these animals in the wild, but also education programs for local communities, restoring and protecting habitats for these animals, as well as providing jobs for local people through eco-tourism.

Did you know?

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs are thought to be the world’s largest pollinator! They feed from the nectar of the ‘traveller’s tree’, the pollen sticks to the lemur’s fur and is then transported to the next tree as the lemur continues to feed.

Many black-and-white ruffed lemurs bring up their young in a communal nest, which allows several mothers to work together to care for the offspring.

It was once believed that black-and-white ruffed lemurs worshipped the sun, as when they sunbathe (bask) they will hold themselves up with their chests facing towards the sun.


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We have visited the zoo last Sunday, and we loved it! My 2 1/2 years old was so excited and as soon as he saw the pinguins he was even more excited! It was really cold but that didn't stop us:) he wanted to see every animal and it turned out… Read full reviewMargarida, 2nd December 2016