Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata)

Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family:    Lemuridae
Size:    Length: 20 to 24 inches (51 to 61 cm) 
Weight: 7.7 to 10 pounds (3.5 to 4.5 kg)
Diet: Fruit, leaves, nectar and sometimes soil
Distribution: Madagascar
Young:  A litter of 1 to 6
Animal Predators:  Boa constrictors, eagles, hawks and fossas (the largest carnivore found on Madagascar)
IUCN Status: Endangered 
Terms: Group:  Troop
Lifespan: 15 to 20 years in the wild



·       All lemurs are considered endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

·       The name lemur comes from the Latin word lemures, which means “ghosts.”

·       Ruffed lemurs are the only primates that have litters.



There are two subspecies of ruffed lemurs—black-and-white ruffed lemurs are covered in black and white fur, while red ruffed lemurs are mostly red, with a black forehead, crown and tail, and a white patch at the back of the head. Their ears are tufted and their eyes are a golden colour. Their name comes from the ruff of fur framing their face. 



Ruffed lemurs live in the eastern rainforests in eastern Madagascar.


Feeding Habits

Ruffed lemurs eat mostly fruit, as well as nectar, leaves, flowers and sometimes soil.  



Ruffed lemurs are believed to be monogamous. Gestation lasts approximately three months and the young are born from September through November. Although females can give birth to up to six, the litter size is usually two or three. They are born with their eyes open and fully furred, but are too weak to cling to their mother, so they are placed in a nest of branches and leaves, prepared by the mother prior to their birth. Sometimes females further line their nests with fur plucked from their own bodies. When the babies are three weeks old, they begin to follow their mothers around.



Ruffed lemurs are social animals that live in groups of two to 16 individuals, with the average size being approximately five. They reinforce their relationships by grooming each other. Ruffed lemurs are known for their series of loud alarm calls that warn other members of their group of approaching predators. 



Forest destruction and hunting are the major conservation concerns for ruffed lemurs. The red-ruffed lemur is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. 



All the World’s Animals: Primates. Torstar Books, 1985

Life Nature Library: The Primates, Time-Life Books, 1980 

A Complete Guide to Monkeys, Apes and other Primates, Michael Kavanagh, Oregon Press Limited, 1983