Common Name: Black and white ruffed lemur
Scientific Name: Varecia variegata variegata
These primates live on the islands of the Primate Expedition Cruise.
5% of all plush primate sales
Description: The ruffed lemurs are the largest living true lemurs. Weights can be as high as 4.5 kg. The large body is covered with thick black and white fur. The pattern varies greatly. Some further differentiation of subspecies may result from further research. Ruffed lemurs lack some of the fluid movement of other lemurs. Their steps and leaps seem more wary. Ruffed lemurs emit a loud barking vocalization for territorial announcement. They are widely hunted and trapped as a meat source.
Range: Eastern Madagascar in patchy populations.
Habitat: Rain forest. They move about the canopy running along larger limbs and jumping from one tree to another.
Diet: Mostly fruit.
Social Life: Researchers report group size of ruffed lemurs ranging from 2-6 individuals up to 16 for a single group. Females seem to play the greatest role in the group and the responsibility of defense lies with them. Reproduction among ruffed lemurs is considerably different from other lemur species. Offspring appear in litters. The relatively short gestation of 90 to 102 days produces twins in over half of all births although up to six newborns have been documented in captivity. Instead of clinging to the mother, the infants are placed in a nest while the mother gathers food. Within a few weeks, the juveniles can follow the mother. Maturity is reached before two years of age.
Conservation: All lemurs are protected by the government of Madagascar and international law. Black and white ruffed lemurs are classified as endangered by the USDI and are listed on Appendix I of CITES. Listed as Endangered by the 2000 Red List from the IUCN. They population has been observed, estimated, inferred, or suspected of declining by at least 50% 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 as well as actual or potential levels of exploitation. The extent of their occurrence is estimated to be less than 5000 km2 or area of occupancy estimated to be less than 500 km2, and estimates indicate they are severely fragmented or known to exist at no more than five locations and are continuing to decline, inferred, observed or projected in area of occupancy and area, extent and/or quality of habitat.
Recommended LINKS & BOOKS
Check out "the" lemur guide by Conservation International. It may be a bit difficult to find and it looks pricey for the size, but it is well worth it for the wealth of lemur information within. This provides extensive information about each species as well as overall history, conservation and the best places to see them in Madagascar.
A great reference book on primates is Noel Rowe's The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates.
Dr. David Macdonald's Encyclopedia of Mammals is one of the great standards for mammal information including the lemurs. Purchase it through Amazon.com by clicking on the photo to help the zoo!
A highly acclaimed video on Madagascar is from the PBS Living Edens series -- Madagascar: A World Apart.
A fun and serious look into the world of lemurs can be seen on video with In the Wild: Lemurs with John Cleese
Walker's Mammals of the World Although the photos are mixed quality black and white, this two volume set has great text.