Ring-tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta) carrying twins
Scientific classification
Gray, 1821

Lemurs are primates and prosimians (not monkeys). The word "lemur" comes from the Latin word lemures, which means "ghosts". This name refers to many of the nocturnal lemur species and their large eyes. Lemur may be any member of the four lemuriform families, but it is also the genus of one of the lemuriform species. There are two so-called flying lemurs, but they are not real lemurs.

Lemurs live only on the island of Madagascar and some smaller islands next to it, for example the Comoros. They weigh from 30g to the 10kg. Larger species have all become extinct since human groups moved to Madagascar. Usually, the smaller lemurs are active at night (nocturnal), and the larger ones are active during the day (diurnal).

Physical description

Lemurs are white and black with a ring tail. They are about 1.5 meters tall and weigh about 2 to 3.5 kilograms. They move quietly, usually at night, sometimes letting out eerie wailing cries, which some people think is the reason why they got their names.

Feeding Habits and Life

Lemurs mostly eat fruit, leaves, and other plant parts. They live in family groups of 5 to 42 members which is called a troop. Females are dominant and remain in the same troop for life. Males move between troops. The female's gestation period lasts four to five months, and they usually have between one and two babies. Lemur mothers nurse their babies until they are about four months old. Then they begin to feed the babies solid food such as fruit. Lemurs spend most of their time in the trees. Some are fantastic leapers, flinging themselves from tree to tree. Lemurs live for about 27 years.[1]


Lemurs communicate with a variety of hoots. They will also send messages with scents (smells). When a male lemur wants to scare another male away, he first rubs its tail on the smelly glands under its arms and then waves the tail in the other male's face. These are called "stink fights".


Today, there are about 32-35 living lemur species. All lemurs are endangered species, because people destroy their habitat and hunt them.

Related pages


  1. Blue Planet, Level 5, by Dinorah Pous p.76
  • Groves C. Wilson D.E. and Reeder D.M. (eds) 2005 . Mammal species of the world, 3rd edition, 111-121, Johns Hopkins University Press. Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn"..

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