Ring-tailed lemurs are meticulously clean animals. After feeding they groom themselves thoroughly, using its comb-like teeth and the long claw on the second toe of its hind foot.
Amazing Facts About the Ring-tailed Lemur
- Ring-tailed lemurs and humans share a common ancestor that lived some 50 millions years ago. Since then, lemurs have evolved in isolation on the island of Madagascar and have retained many primitive characteristics. There are nearly 200 species of lemur.
- The Ring-tailed lemur is usually found in groups of 5-30 animals. Males and females have their own separate social rankings within a troop, however female are dominant over males. If, for example, food and water supplies are scarce, females will feed and drink before males.
- In order to keep warm and to reaffirm social bonds, groups will huddle together forming a ‘lemur ball’.
- Adult female lemurs stay within the group they were born into. Male lemurs are likely to move from one troop to another.
- Ring-tailed lemurs have scent-glands in their lower arm (in both sexes); upper arm glands in the male. The male wipes his tail past the inside of his forearms to mark it with his own distinctive scent. Males also utilise their sweat glands in a fight for a receptive female during the breeding season, known as “stink battles”. Their snout is pointed like a fox, and covered with sensitive whiskers. The tip of the nose is naked and moist and communication by smell is extremely important.
- Most lemurs are nocturnal. However, the ring-tailed lemur is active during the day.
- The ring-tailed lemur has a striking tail: bushy, black and white banded; longer than its body and usually held aloft as a signal to other lemurs. They will use their tales to help with balance when climbing and sitting in trees and for protecting their young. They can move along the thinnest of branches, even with a youngster clinging to its back.
- Young ring-tailed lemurs immediately cling with all four limbs to the fur of the mother’s underside, wrapping its tail around her back. The mother makes the baby more secure by curling her tail around it. She will carry it wherever she goes for two weeks, when it moves round from her belly and rides on her back.
- Youngsters are suckled for about five months and the whole troop will take responsibility for the young. They may be suckled by any mother that is producing milk. They do not become completely independent until about six months.
- Ring-tailed lemurs have leather-like palms on their hands and opposable thumbs (like humans) so that they can grip and hold objects with ease.
- They are well adapted for climbing and are very agile in the tree-tops. Although they move mainly on the ground, the ring-tailed lemur will often feed in the trees and they sit up right when feeding (similar to humans). Gripping fruit in their hands, they holds their heads up so that juice of the fruit runs straight down into their mouth rather than wetting their fur.
- While the lemurs sometimes eat insects, they predominantly eat plant material. They eat fruit and leaves, chiefly feeding on wild figs, bananas and fig thistles.
- Ring-tailed lemurs are meticulously clean animals. After feeding they groom themselves thoroughly, using its comb-like teeth and the long claw on the second toe of its hind foot.
- Ring-tailed lemurs are also known for their communal sunbathing, where they will sit upright in the Lotus ‘position’, supported by tree trunk and facing their underside, with their thinner white fur towards the sun.
- Ring-tailed lemurs make a variety of sounds, including squeaks, growls, snorts, clicks and howls. When stroked, a tame ring-tailed lemur will purr like a cat. A loud yodel is a territorial claim.
- All lemurs are threatened because of habitat destruction. The ring-tailed lemur is more abundant than most, inhabiting at least six protected areas. It is not certain however whether remaining lemur habitats can be preserved.
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Omnivore
- Lifespan: Up to 18 years
- Size: Head and body around 45 cm, with 55 cm long tail
- Weight: 2.3-3.5kg
- Habitat: Woodland, rocky and scrub areas
- Range: Madagascar and some tiny nearby islands
- Scientific name: Lemur catta