Black and White Ruffed Lemurs

Black and White Ruffed Lemur (Lemuridae Varecia variegata variegata)

Judith Wolfe

Black and White Ruffed Lemur

Zoo collection includes: Seven lemurs, including the father and two sets of triplets. Only one female.

Found in the wild: The Ruffed lemur lives in eastern Madagascar, in humid rain forests.

See Them at the Central Park Zoo: Downstairs in their enclosed glass habitat in the Tropical Rain Forest.

Description: They have staring eyes (which glow reddish in the dark) and silent, secretive habits. Lemurs are the most primitive of primates, called prosimian (before apes). The Ruffed lemur is the largest of the true lemurs, measuring when full grown, four feet in length including the long tail of about two feet. The fur is long and soft, and the ears are hidden by a ruff of hair. The color pattern varies and may be different on the right and left sides of a specimen. They mark their territory by screaming and by scent. They rub leaves, branches or fruit with their palms to leave a distinctive odor. During the day the Ruffed lemur sleeps in a hollow tree curled up into a ball. They are nimble climbers, most active at dusk and during the first part of the night, when they forage for fruit. They rarely descends to the ground.
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Zoo Lemur Habitat: They live in a wide habitat filled with trees and vines to climb around in the tropical rain forest.

What do they eat:  They predominantly eat vegetation such as flowers, fruit, seeds, nectar, and leaves. Lemurs have also been known to eat insects, small birds, birds' eggs and, occasionally, small mammals. In the Zoo, they are fed monkey chow, lettuce and mixed fruit.

Hanging Lemur
Judith Wolfe

Lemur hanging round the Zoo


Life span: 18 years or older

Threats: The Ruffed lemur is listed as endangered by the USDI (1980) and CITES. It is reportedly declining because of human destruction of its forest habitat, and commercial exportation. Predators include boa constrictors, eagles and the fossa.

Fun Facts: Ruffed lemurs are quadrupedal, using al of their limbs for locomotion. They hang upside down, holding on by their feet, when feeding. 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. A lemur's soft, broad fingers and toes have flat nails that allow it to grip objects and groom one another. A female lemur carries her newborn in her mouth until the baby is able to cling to the fur on mother's stomach or back. By five weeks of age the young can climb to the tops of trees. Weaning occurs at around 135 days. Females may become pregnant when 20 months old. 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 within 2-3 hours. The seeds soon sprout to replenish the vegetation that sustains Madagascar's unique inhabitants.



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