Red Ruffed Lemur

Red Ruffed Lemur



COMMON NAME: red ruffed lemur
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Primates
FAMILY: Lemuridae
GENUS SPECIES: Varecia variegata (variegated) ruba (red)


DESCRIPTION: Active, tree dwelling primates with cat-like nose and whiskers; fur is soft and coloration is reddish brown with black markings.
SIZE: Head and body length = 47.5-50 cm (19-20 in)
Tail length = 59 cm (23.6 in)
WEIGHT: 3.6-4.5 kg (8-10 lbs)
DIET: Predominantly vegetation such as flowers, fruit, seeds, nectar, and leaves
GESTATION: 90-102 days; usually 3 offspring, up to 6
LIFE SPAN: 18 years or older
RANGE: Eastern Madagascar, within the Masoala Penisula east of the Antainambalana River
HABITAT: Tropical rainforest
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Appendix I
USFWS Endangered


1. Lemurs are also called prosimians, which means "before apes". They have primitive primate features such as a small brain case and a prominent nose.
2. Lemurs rely on their sense of smell as a way of communicating with other animals. They have special scent glands on their wrists and bottoms that leave scent trails on branches to mark their territories.
3. A lemur's soft, broad fingers and toes have flat nails that allow it to grip objects and groom other lemurs.
4. These prosimians are quite social and the groups have clearly defined male and female hierarchies. Most communities number 2-5 individuals.
5. A female lemur carries her newborn to a new nest site in her mouth.
6. The lemur's thick bushy tail serves as a visual signal when it is threatened or as a balancing tool when it leaps through the trees.
7. Red-ruffed lemurs are able to pursue sitting birds of prey as well as some terrestrial carnivores in order to distract them from a lemur nest near by.


Lemurs fill an important ecological role of Madagascar. These primates often feed on an assortment of seasonal fruits and as they travel throughout their environment, they disperse undigested seeds in their manure. The seeds soon sprout to replenish the vegetation that sustains Madagascar's unique inhabitants. This is very important on an island where over 80% of the original habitats have been lost to logging and agriculture. The Malagasy people struggle to save their country's dwindling biodiversity. They maintain national parks to protect wildlife, support the ecotourism industry, and search for less damaging methods of farming.


Burton, J. (ed.). The Atlas of Endangered Species. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1991.

Macdonald, D.(ed.). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol 1. London: Equinox Ltd., 1984.

Nowak, R. Walker's Mammals of the World. Vol 1. London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Preston-Mafham, Ken. Madagascar: A Natural History. Oxford: Ken Preston-Mafham, 1991.

Preston-Mafham, Rod and Ken. 1999. Primates of the World. Sterling Pub., New York.

Rowe, Noel. 1996. The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates. Pogonios Press, NY.

Tattersall, Ian. The Primates of Madagascar. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.