Red-ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra)

Red ruffed lemur

Head to Life Among the Trees to find them. It's behind Marwell Hall and next to our formal garden.

Fast facts

Status Critically Endangered

Size Head-body: 50-55cm; tail length: 60-65cm

Weight 3.3-3.6kg

Gestation 102 days

Young 1-5 in captivity and 2-3 in the wild

Life span Up to 35 years

What do I eat?

The red-ruffed lemur is the most frugivorous of Madagascar’s primates with up to 90% of its diet consisting of fruit. The rest is made up of flowers, nectar and leaves.  

Where do I live?

Red-ruffed lemurs are found in a very small area, only inhabiting the forests of the Masolala Peninsula in north-eastern Madagascar. This is a tropical, moist lowland forest and the lemurs prefer to be in the canopy of large feeding trees.


The mating season for red-ruffed lemurs is around May-July with births occurring from September through to early November. Females begin to change their diet to consume more high protein items like young leaves and flowers just before birth to help with the high energy needed to produce milk for their young. These lemurs live in communities of between 5 and 30 individuals and it is a collaborative effort to care for the young.  


The main threats to the red-ruffed lemur are habitat loss and unsustainable hunting. Due to their large size, these animals are sadly still hunted and trapped for food. Their habitat can also be threatened by fire, logging and frequent cyclones that hit the Masoala peninsula. The range of this species has also been heavily impacted on by a rapid upsurge of illegal logging after 2009.  The red-ruffed lemur is protected within the Masoala National Park and the Makira Protected Area but unfortunately Masoala National Park was subjected to some heavy illegal logging in 2009 and the lemurs’ habitat suffered as a consequence. This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES which means that international trade of the red-ruffed lemur and its parts is prohibited.  

Did you know?

When first born, a red-ruffed lemur will weigh just under 100g.

The red-ruffed lemur has an extensive vocal repertoire. It uses cries in various contexts with the most characteristic vocalisation being a very loud and raucous call used in territorial encounters.

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