Lemur (Black-and-white-ruffed) / Varecia variegata

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Malagasy natives once believed that black and white lemurs worshipped the sun because they often sunbathe

One of the largest lemurs, both males and females look the same, with black and white markings and a ruff or fringe of long white fur around their ears and neck, from which their name is taken.

Like all lemur species it has a complex social structure forming groups which range in size from 5-32 individuals. The group will defend its territory from other neighbouring groups by using loud calls and by scent marking.

They rub leaves, branches or fruit with their palms to leave a distinctive odour. They also use their loud calls to warn others about danger, such as predators. To ensure a social bonding, members of a group will groom each other with their teeth. This helps to keep each lemur clean and to keep friendships strong in the group.

The young are born after a gestation period of 90-102 days. The females will give birth to 2-3 babies who are left in a nest for the first week or so of their lives. They are the only primates to do this. After about three weeks the female will begin to carry them about in her mouth and leave them in trees while she searches for food.

A diurnal nimble climber, they forage as they walk or run on larger branches andleap from tree to tree.

The black and white ruffed lemur’s diet consists of mainly fruit, seeds, leaves and nectar. They have also been known to eat insects, small birds, birds’ eggs and, occasionally, small mammals.