Ring Tailed Lemur

The Facts

  • Genus/Species: Lemur catta
  • Conservation Status: Endangered
  • Location: Madagascar 

Ring-Tailed Lemur
Ring-Tailed Lemur
Ring-Tailed Lemur
Ring-Tailed Lemur
Ring-Tailed Lemur
Ring-Tailed Lemur

The Scoop

Only in Madagascar

All lemurs are unique to Madagascar, a large island southeast of Africa. A troop of lemurs have a large home range that contains many trees, since trees provide them with most of their food. However, they generally prefer to walk on the ground rather than swing from tree to tree like other lemurs do. Ring-tailed lemurs have black skin, mostly covered by grey fur. They also have patches of white fur on their faces, ears, and underbelly. Their long tails have a fur pattern of alternating black and white rings, which gives them their name. Ring-tailed lemurs have powerful scent glands and use their unique odor as a communication tool and even as a kind of weapon- males who are fighting will try to out-stink each other!

Ring tailed lemurs are about the size of a large house cat. They have an herbivorous diet, consisting of various plants and fruits. Favorite foods include tamarind pods. They often lick rain and morning dew from leaves as a water source. Ring-tailed lemurs feed first in the morning, and then again in the evening after their siesta. They eat food that has fallen onto the ground, as well as in trees to reach pods and berries that are still attached to branches. 

Due to the clearing of trees and the destruction of their habitat, ring-tailed lemurs are an endangered species. There are many conservation efforts in progress, led by groups such as the Lemur Conservation Foundation and the Madagascar Fauna Group.


Did You Know?

  • Lemurs are noisy, making 15 different kinds of sounds from purrs to clicks to grunts to howls. They also communicate using odor.
  • Adult lemurs have bright yellow eyes, their young have blue eyes.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs have a specialized tooth used for scraping during grooming.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs enjoy sunning themselves in the early morning. They do so with limp, outstretched arms and half-closed eyes and they look as though they are mediating!


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