Lemur catta

Range: Southwestern Madagascar off the coast of Africa.

Habitat: Arid, open areas and forests

Conservation status: Not threatened.

Ring-tailed Lemur

  • • Although primates, they are distinctly different from apes and monkeys. Their differences are the result of long-term isolation on Madagascar, which separated from Africa millions of years ago. Note how much longer their muzzles are than those of squirrel monkeys.
    • Good climbers, ring-tailed lemurs spent almost half of their day on the ground searching for food.
    • Diet: fruit, leaves, flowers, herbs, small animals, and insects.
    • Diurnal (active during daylight). Start their day warming themselves by moving away from the sleeping tree and onto open ground where they begin "sunning” themselves. The temperature in the forest can be cold at night and this is a way to warm up before they forage. They retreat to the shade around noon and they become active again in the afternoon, feeding and moving about until the late afternoon. On really hot days, they may rest again in the mid-afternoon. Then after more feeding in the late afternoon, the group goes back to the sleeping tree where they stay for the night.
    • Live in groups of three to 25 individuals. Females stay in their birth groups throughout their lives. Generally males change groups with the onset of sexual maturity, at age three.
    • Ringtail groups range over an area of up to 3.5 miles each day in search of food. Groups will defend their territories against other intruding lemur groups.
    • Matriarchal society: Females are dominant in the group, meaning they get to eat first and have first choice of mates. This, like the gibbons, is uncommon among primates.
    • Females have closer social bonds with other female relatives in a group than they do with unrelated females. These social bonds are established and reinforced by grooming.

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