Lemur (Red-Ruffed)

Varecia rubra

IUCN Red List status: Critically Endangered

For more info on classifications, visit www.iucnredlist.org

Critically Endangered


Where they live

Madagascar and some tiny neighbouring islands


tropical rainforest


head-body length up to 56cm, tail length up to 62cm


approx 4kg


15 - 20 years (wild). Up to 30 years (zoo).


Due to its large size and apparent need for tall primary forest, this species is susceptible to human encroachment and habitat loss (particularly due to slash-and-burn agriculture). Hunting also remains a threat

Did you know...

  • Red-ruffed lemurs pursue birds of prey as well as some terrestrial carnivores in order to distract them from a nearby lemur nest
  • A lemur’s soft, broad fingers and toes have flat nails that allow it to grip objects and groom other lemurs

More about red-ruffed lemurs...

Red-ruffed lemurs are named because of their fur and facial ruff. They are usually red with black faces and hands and feet. They are the largest of all lemurs.

They are very clean animals and spend a lot of time grooming themselves and each other. The lower incisors and the claw on the second toe of the hind foot are specially adapted for this behaviour. The lower incisors 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.

They live in large family groups where the females are dominant. Unlike all other diurnal primates, the females build nests 10–20 metres above the forest floor, made with twigs, leaves, vines, and fur.

Like all lemurs, and many other Madagascan animals, it has a fixed breeding season which takes place towards the end of the dry season (May to July).

This enables young to be born in the wet season when more food is available.

After 102 days the female gives birth to a litter of three to six young.

Newborns have fur and can see, but as they are immobile, the female leaves them in the nest until they are seven weeks old.

They are weaned at four months. It is estimated that 65% of young do not reach three months of age, and often die by falling from the trees.

How you can help...

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