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Common Name: Ring-tailed lemur

Scientific Name: Lemur catta


These primates live on the islands of the Primate Expedition Cruise.

Description: This is one of the easiest lemurs to identify. Its gray top coat and light underside are quickly overlooked because of the striking banded tail. The alternating black and white pattern gives this species its common name. The ears are somewhat pointed and dark triangular patches surround the eyes. Weighing between 3 and 3.5 kg the ring-tailed lemur is agile in the trees but is mostly seen on the ground. One researcher has identified 15 separate vocalizations including different alarm calls for terrestrial versus avian threats.

Range: South and southwestern Madagascar

Habitat: Wide ranging types of forest. More terrestrial than any other lemur.

Diet: Almost Exclusively Herbivorous: fruits, flowers, bark and sap from a few dozen species, a few leaves and, rarely, insects

Social Life: Ring-tailed lemur society is female dominated even to the point of females defending the home range. Each sex has its own hierarchy. Aggression is not uncommon and includes the use of scent marking the ring-tail with wrist and chest glands. Group size ranges from 3 to 24 individuals. One and occasionally two offspring are born following a 136 day gestation. Infant mortality is approximately 50% in some areas and an average of just 40% of all ring-tail lemurs born reach maturity.

Conservation: All lemurs are threatened by habitat loss. The ring-tailed lemurs are listed by USDI as endangered and on Appendix I of the CITES. Listed as Vulnerable by the Red List from the IUCN. Vulnerable is when it is not Critically Endangered or Endangered but is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future, as defined by when a population reduction in the form of an observed, estimated, inferred or suspected reduction of at least 20% over the last 10 years or three generations, whichever is the longer, based on a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat.

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