Photographer's Note

Maki close-up while he was sitting in the sun!

The red ruffed lemur is one of the largest primates of Madagascar with a body length of up to 56 cm, a tail length of up to 62 cm and weighing at about 4 kg. Their soft, thick fur is usually red and black in color but a few are known to have a white or pink patch on the back of the neck and/or a ring on the base of the tail in a similar color.

There is a second ruffed lemur that is similar to this one; it's called the black and white ruffed lemur. They both live in the rain forest along the east coast of Madagascar, but they don't associate with each other.

Diet: Ruffed lemurs are mainly fruit eaters, though they also eat leaves and shoots.

Family Life: Ruffed lemurs usually live in small family groups of up to ten individuals that include the adult male and female, and their offspring.

Reproduction: Like all lemurs, and many Madagascan mammals, they have a fixed breeding season which takes place towards the end of the dry season. This is so the young can be born in the wet season when more food is available. The gestation period is about 102 days, which is short for such a large animal. Unlike other lemurs, ruffed lemur females can have up to six young at a time. The average, however, is about three young per litter. The young are born covered with fur and with their eyes open at birth, but they are still quite helpless. They are born in a nest where they stay, unless the mother moves them some where else.

Habits: Lemurs are very clean animals and spend a lot of time grooming themselves and each other. The lower insisors (front teeth) and the claw on the second toe of the hind foot are specially adapted for this behavior. The lower insisors grow forward in line with each other and are slightly spaced. This creates a "tooth comb" which can be used to groom their long, soft fur. The claw is also used for grooming.

Status and Conservation: The exact status of the red ruffed lemur in the wild is not fully known, but recent studies show that they are endangered with a declining wild population. At present, there are over 200 ruffed lemurs in 42 different zoos worldwide. Several of these zoos work with each other in breeding and caring for the captive population. To prevent inbreeding, wild caught animals have been introduced to the captive breeding program.



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