25 Facts About Lemurs


What’s not to love about lemurs? They’re charismatic, funny, and they’ve got long tails! These lovable little ones are often a fan favourite at the zoo, so let’s learn 25 facts about Lemurs.  

Fact 1: Lemurs are natives of Madagascar.

  • However, you can also find a few of them on the Comoro Islands, these islands form an archipelago of volcanic islands near south-east Africa. 

Fact 2: Lemurs belong to the primate order.

  • The smallest lemur species in the world according to weight is Madame Berthe’s ‘Mouse lemur’ which weighs only 1.1 ounces, while the largest living lemurs are the ‘Indri’ and ‘Diademed sifaka’, both weigh around 15 pounds. 

Fact 3: Most lemurs are small, have a pointed snout, large eyes and a long tail.

  • They’re mainly arboreal, which means that they spend most of their time in trees. Lemurs are also nocturnal. 

Fact 4: Around 2,000 years ago, before humans settled on Madagascar, there were lemurs as large as gorillas on the island.

  • Most lemur species have been discovered or promoted to full species status since the 1990s. 

Fact 5: 40 million years ago,  Lemurs arrived on Madagascar via floating rafts of vegetation. 

  • They soon flourished in isolation without any major predators or competition. 

Fact 6: There are currently over 100 living species of lemurs in the world. 

  • These include the Ruffed lemurs, Ring-tailed lemurs, Bamboo lemurs, Aye-Ayes, Sportive lemurs, the Indri, Sifakas and Woolly lemurs.  

Fact 7: In 1986, Dr. Patricia Wright discovered the Golden Bamboo Lemur in Ranomafana National Park.  

  • The park was opened in 1991 to protect this endangered lemur, and as several other lemur species, as well as its flora and fauna.

Fact 8: The term “Lemures” refers to “wandering spirits of the dead” in Latin.

  • In fact, during the Lemuria Festival in Ancient Rome, it was a tradition to offer black beans at midnight to appease the malevolent spirits.

Fact 9: Lemurs have thumbs and long toes. 

  • They use their thumbs/toes mainly for climbing since they lack claws. 

Fact 10: At a height of less than 2.5 inches, the ‘Pygmy Mouse lemur’ is the smallest lemur species in the world. 

  • The tallest living lemur, on the other hand, is the Indri, which stands at a height of 2.5 feet. 

Fact 11: Most Lemurs live in the trees, particularly in dense forests, as there is more food here for them to eat.

  • They eat bark, insects, and sometimes the sap that comes from trees.

Fact 12: Many species of lemurs currently face extinction. 

  • Despite conservation efforts, poaching and habitat destruction remain a glaring threat. 

Fact 13: Aye-Aye lemurs are often trapped and killed by humans. 

  • This is because locals believe that the Aye-Aye is linked to evil spirits and is a bad omen. 

Fact 14: Female lemurs run the world. 

  • In a 2008 study, it was observed that in all lemur families, regardless of the mating system, females hold dominance over males. 

Fact 15: Indri lemurs love to sing together.

  • This species of lemur typically live in small groups across Madagascar’s eastern rain forests. When faced with a threat, Indri lemurs belt out songs as a defence mechanism. 

Fact 16: More than half of all baby lemurs will not survive to adulthood.

  • Lemurs mature at the age of 2. 

Fact 17: Lemur tails aren’t prehensile, which means they can’t hang from trees by their tails.

  • Instead, they use their tails for communication and balance when running or jumping.

Fact 18: There are stories from Roman mythology that feature lemurs as good spirits.

  • Some of these stories also portray the furry creatures as bad omens that should be punished. 

Fact 19: Ring-tailed lemurs settle disputes via “stink fights”.

  • Male ring-tailed lemurs have scent glands on their wrists and shoulders, and they use their long tails to waft scents into the air to intimidate their opponents.

Fact 20: Out of 600 species of primates, only 2 are known to sport blue irises: humans and the blue-eyed black lemurs. 

  • The blue-eyed black lemur is listed as critically endangered. As few as 1,000 individuals are thought to remain in the wild, largely due to slash and burn habitat destruction, as well as a mild threat from hunting problems.

Fact 21: The Red Ruffed and the Ring-tailed lemurs spend their mornings sunbathing and foraging.

  • Ring-tailed lemurs are the most familiar and well-studied of all the lemurs. They have a vivid black-and-white striped tail and powerful scent glands. Red ruffed lemurs, on the other hand, have a rust-coloured body, but their heads, stomachs, tails, feet, and the insides of their legs are black. 

Fact 22: Studies have revealed that lemurs can memorize lists of images, identify which images are larger, and even understand basic math.

  • Generally, ‘intelligence’ research is performed on monkeys/apes, which is why lemurs are mentioned so little. 

Fact 23: Ruffed lemurs are considered to be Earth’s largest pollinators.

  • Both species of the Ruffed lemurs (the red, and the black and white) inhabit Madagascar’s rainforests where they have become experts on the island’s native fruits. 

 Fact 24: It’s easy to spot a Ring-tailed lemur due to its remarkably long, black and white striped tail. 

  • They’re also common residents in a lot of zoos around the world. Ring-tailed lemurs have powerful scent glands that they use for communication and defence.

Fact 25: They have been featured in the film “Madagascar” and its sequels, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” and “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”.

  • In the film, a colony of Ring-tailed lemurs is led by King Julien XIII, a self-proclaimed King of the lemurs.

References:

Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6 

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