IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

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Biology

The ruffed lemurs are arboreal forest dwellers, getting around by walking or running on larger branches and leaping from tree to tree (5). They enjoy a rich diet of fruit, nectar, seeds and leaves, obtaining the nectar by using their long snouts and tongues to reach deep inside the flowers. They are active mainly in the early morning and late afternoon (6), though nocturnal behaviour has been observed. Indeed the word 'lemur' means a 'night wandering ghost' referring to their stealthy, noiseless movement through the forest by night. When alarmed by predators, however, these primates are far from quiet, emitting an elaborate system of loud barks through the forest to alert other group members (3). These lemurs are social animals, with group sizes typically varying from 2-5 individuals, but occasionally numbering up to 30; their home ranges vary in size accordingly (6). Within the group the strongest bonds form between females, whilst those between males are much weaker. Interestingly, females are dominant to males, forming the core of the group and defending the territories, a system common only to Malagasy lemurs (3). Grouping patterns also change with the seasons, with females forming larger groups during the wet season and dispersing during the dry season in search of food. Social bonds in groups are established and reinforced by grooming, but whereas most other primates groom with their fingers, prosimians such as the ruffed lemur cannot manipulate their fingers and instead have developed an usual fascinating behaviour; their 6 bottom teeth project away from the jaw to form a comb which these primates use to groom their fur and the fur of other group members (3). The ruffed lemur reproduces seasonally with mating occurring between May and July, and the offspring are born in September and October (6). Unlike other lemurs, the ruffed lemurs give birth in well-concealed nests constructed of twigs and leaves, held 10 – 20 meters above the ground. Twins are the norm and after only four months the young are independent and as mobile and active as adults. However, infant mortality is high with about 65% of offspring failing to reach 3 months of age, dying from accidental falls and related injuries (2).

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Source: ARKive

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