Ringtailed Lemurs

ringtailed lemur mother and two lemur babies

Ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta) are one of about 30 lemur species from the island of Madagascar. All lemurs belong to the family Lemuridae.

About Madagascar

Madagascar is a small island east of Africa. At one time, about 65 million years ago, the island of Madagascar was connected to the continent of Africa, but broke away. Because the island was separate and isolated, the plants and animals there evolved differently than on the continent of Africa. In fact, approximately 80% of the plants and animals of Madagascar are found nowhere else on Earth.

Wild lemurs can only be found in Madagascar, but many zoos across the world keep and breed lemurs in captivity. This is a good thing because ringtailed lemurs are listed as a near threatened species. Their numbers in the wild are steadily declining due to habitat destruction.

Their main predator/threat in the wild are the fusa, a large cat-like mammal living on Madagascar, and of course, humans.

ringtailed lemur mom holding baby lemur and eating an orange

About Ringtailed Lemurs

Ringtailed lemurs are primates, although they look a bit like cats. They tend to live in groups of about 20-30 animals. They are the only lemurs that have black and white striped tails.

They are diurnal animals (active during the day) and feed mostly on fruits and other plants, and sometimes small insects.

Ringtailed lemurs are good jumpers and can even stand upright.

Male ringtailed lemurs have scent glands on their wrists, shoulders, and back end. Humans are unable to smell the scent they produce, but lemurs use it for communication.

Speaking of communication, these lemurs are quite vocal. They frequently call out to one another.

They often huddle together at night or even during the day to keep warm.

a group of lemurs in a zoo huddling close together for warmth

There are a few people that attempt to keep ringtailed lemurs as pets, with varying success. After all, lemurs are wild animals, however, there have been a few that have been domesticated. However, it is probably best to leave keeping lemurs in captivity for zoos, who can provide them with the proper environment, lemur socialization, and foods.