Lemur (Ring-tailed)

Lemur catta

IUCN Red List status: Endangered

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



Where they live

Madagascar and some tiny neighbouring islands


topical dry forest and scrub forest


head-and body length 45cm, tail length 55cm




Up to 20 years


Habitat loss and hunting are the greatest causes of concern

Did you know...

  • Lemurs are unique to Madagascar
  • Lemurs are primates but evolved quite differently from monkeys and apes when Madagascar split from the African continent millions of years ago
  • You are likely to see ring-tailed lemurs sitting on the ground, facing the sun with their arms outspread sun worshipping!

More about ring-tailed lemurs...

The name ring-tailed is derived from the characteristically black and white ringed tail which these highly social animals use for keeping in touch and signalling to each other.

They live in groups of up to 30 individuals in which the females are dominant; a trait common among lemurs.

To keep warm and reaffirm social bonds, groups will huddle together forming a lemur ball.

The ring-tailed lemur will also sunbathe to warm up in the morning, sitting upright facing its underside, with its thinner white fur, towards the sun.

Like other lemurs, this species relies strongly on its sense of smell and marks its territory with powerful scent glands.

During the mating season, male lemurs battle for dominance by trying to out smell each other. They cover their long tails with smelly secretions and wave them in the air to determine which animal is more powerful.

Breeding males will mate with more than one female who, after a gestation period of 132 days, normally give birth to a single baby, although twins can occur.

Ring-tails are omnivores and are active during the daytime spending a lot of time on the ground, moving through the forest to feed on a range of fruits, shoots, and small insects.

In Madagascar ring-tailed lemurs have to be watchful at all times because their main predator is the fossa, is a very good climber and can pursue them into the trees.

How you can help...