Habitat and Ecology
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1990Vulnerable(IUCN 1990)
Western woolly lemur
The western woolly lemur or western avahi (Avahi occidentalis) is a species of woolly lemur native to western Madagascar, where they live in dry deciduous forests. These nocturnal animals weigh 0.7-0.9 kg. It is a folivorous species.
The western woolly lemurs live in monogamous pairs together with their offspring.
The Western woolly lemur mostly consumes leaves and buds that derive from around 20 different plants which have not matured and have high levels of sugars and proteins. The food is typically consumed within the time frame of two hours before dawn and two hours after dusk, in which the lemurs consume their food at the tops of trees ranging between 2 and 9 metres. During feeding time, lemurs typically settle on thinner branches unless the tree itself is too small to support the animal's weight. Most likely due to the lemur's folivorous diet, Western woolly lemurs spend large amounts of time resting in order to conserve energy.
Because the Avahi as a species is highly selective in their folivorous diet, depending on plants with specific characteristics, it is hard to keep Avahi in captivity. Therefore, one of the primary and most general ways of conserving the species is to conserve the forests in which Avahi are currently found.
According to Tholmann and Geissmann(2000) there are three distinct forms of the Western Woolly Lemur: Bemaraha, Avahi Occidentalis, and Avahi Unicolor.
The Bemaraha sub-species of the Avahi is found in Eastern Madagascar, near the village of Ambalarano. Its face is slightly more pale than its upper head, and the area above the nose extends to the forehead to contrast with the triangular pattern created by the forehead fur (also present in the other forms of Western Avahi—A. occidentalis and A. Unicolor). The fur that borders the face is a black tone and forms a dark pattern in the shape of a line or stripe that is resembles the letter "V". Its eyes are a maroon color with black eyelids, and the snout is black and hairless, while the corners of the mouth have a white tone. The fur on the head and body is a brown-gray color and has a slightly curled/freckled appearance. Its tail is beige or brownish-gray in color, and slightly red on the dorsal side of the base. The surface color of the lower limbs of the Bemaraha is white, while the chest, belly, and inner area of the upper limbs is a light gray color with relatively thin fur.
The Avahi occidentalis sub-species are located Northeast of Bombetoka Bay, in Northwestern Madagascar. Its facial fur is white, white-grey, or cream, and forms an outline that contrasts with its surrounding facial features. There is a small darker spot of fur above the nose within the facial outline, and the light facial hair extends below the ears. The eyes have a yellow-brown tint and are surrounded by a circle of black, hairless skin. The nose is black and hairless, and the hair surrounding the nose has a white tint. Its head and body is a brown-grey or yellowish brown color, and the fur is lightly curled and may appear freckled (some may have a darker color along the back). The tail is pale gray or has tints of greyish-beige, but can also have tints of red, and occasionally, some will have a white tip. On the chest, belly, and inner parts of the body, the fur is fairly thin, light beige, cream, or of an apricot color.
The Avahi Unicolor sub-species are located in Cacamba, on the peninsula of Ampasindava, in Northwestern Madagascar . This sub-species is distinguished form the Avahi occidentalis by its lack of the white facial outline and the lack of the black hairless circles that surround the eyes . The face itself is slightly more pale than the upper head which creates a slight contrasting facial outline caused by the fur length and consistency (facial hair is short and not curled in comparison to the rest of the body) . The contrasting facial outline has a small fur spot above the nose and the forehead that presents the appearance of a dark line . Its eyes are maroon with black, hairless eyelids. The snout is also black and hairless, but the corners of the mouth have a white tint. The fur of the head and body is a light gray-beige, and has a sightly curled, freckled appearance. Its tail is gray-brown or reddish-brown, while the base is a pale brown or cream color. The back is slightly darker in the shoulder-blade area. The lower body's limbs are an off-white color, while the fur on the chest, belly, and inner limbs is fairly thin and light-gray in color.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 119. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Andrainarivo, C., Andriaholinirina, V. N., Feistner, A., Felix, T., Ganzhorn, J., Garbutt, N., Golden, C., Konstant, B., Louis Jr., E., Meyers, D., Mittermeier, R. A., Perieras, A., Princee, F., Rabarivola, J. C., Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ratsimbazafy, J., Raveloarinoro, G., Razafimanantsoa, A., Rumpler, Y., Schwitzer, C., Thalmann, U., Wilmé, L. & Wright, P. (2008). Avahi occidentalis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 1 January 2009.
- The Primata. (2007) "Western Woolly Lemur (Avahi occidentalis)". Retrieved 2 April 2013.
- Arkive. (n.d.) "Western Woolly Lemur (Avahi occidentalis)". Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- Thelmann, U. & Geissmann, T. (2000). "Distribution and geographic variation in the western woolly lemur (avahi occidentalis) with description of a new species (a. unicolor)", "International Journal of Primatology 21 (6). Retrieved on 3 April 2013.