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Red-Ruffed Lemur

Scientific Name: Varecia variegata rubra

Lemurs are found only on the island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa. They are different to other primates due to their dog-like muzzle and wet nose. They get their name from the rust red ruff that surrounds their face. The majority of their fur is the same colour as the ruff with black faces, hands, feet, front and tail and a white brow line.

Red ruffed lemurs form groups of 2-16 individuals with multiple males and females. Bonds in the group are strengthened through grooming. However, lemurs lack the ability to manipulate their fingers like other primates so instead groom with their bottom teeth, which stick out from the jaw creating a comb. They also have a claw on the second toe of their hind foot that is specially adapted for grooming their thick fur.

Females typically give birth to between two and six offspring. Infants are placed in a nest made in the hollow of a tree whilst the mother leaves to find food. Other members of the group take care of the infants whilst she is away, a practice called alloparenting. Infant mortality in red ruffed lemurs is high with only one infant from each litter making it past two years of age.

The majority of the ruffed lemurs diet is fruit, nectar and pollen. They play an important role in pollination of certain plants.

The main threat facing ruffed lemurs is habitat loss for logging or urban development. They are particularly susceptible to slash and burn techniques when whole areas of the forest are set alight. Hunting for bush meat and the pet trade is increasingly becoming a threat.

Key Facts:

  • Conservation Status: Critically Endangered
  • Distribution: Madagascar
  • Habitat: Tropical Forest
  • Diet: Flowers, Fruit
  • Height: 60cm
  • Weight: 3.5 – 4kg
  • Gestation: 102 day
  • No. of young: 2 – 6
  • Life Span: 20 years

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