lémur froma part of the indigenous primates of Madagascar. The term is not only applied to typical lemurs (family Lemuridae) but also to the avahis, sifakas, indri and aye-aye of Madagascar.

In a broader way, the loris (Lorisinae), poto (Perodicticus potto), and the gallagues (Galagidae) from Southeast Asia and Africa.

Frontal photo of a lemur
Frontal photo of a lemur

Species

There are different species of lemurs, which contain different subspecies. The most common species of lemurs are the following:

  • Black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)
  • Reddish mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus)
  • Loud lemur (Avahi)
  • Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
  • Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)

Some lemurs are extremely rare or in danger of extinction. Some of them were not discovered until the end of the XNUMXth century or were rediscovered after being considered extinct.

Remains of species larger than the current ones have been found. Some of them may have survived until just 500 years ago. It is quite likely that they were exterminated by overhunting or habitat modification by the Malagasy people, who came to the island at least 2.000 years ago.

Features

Lemurs are small to medium sized primates with adult lemurs varying in length depending on the species. The smallest is Berthe's mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae) from 9 cm to 70 cm from the indri (Indri indri). To which should be added their long tails, which can be longer or equal to their body or have a piece of tail as in the case of the indri.

Most have large eyes, fox faces, monkey bodies, and long hind limbs. The hair is usually woolly reddish, gray, brown or black, except for the aye-aye that has hardly any hair. They may also have eye rings or crown patches.

They also have sharp claws on their feet that allow them to cling to tree branches, which is especially useful for escaping from predators.

Despite being primates, they are less intelligent than their monkey relatives. His sense of smell is sharper, but his vision is lower. Some species are active during the day, but their seem to be adapted for nightlife, changing visual acuity for greater sensitivity in low light conditions.

Behavior

The lemur is a docile and gregarious animal, spending most of its time in trees. They are structured in a matriarchal society, which means that the female has greater control over the group than the males. It is unknown why lemurs have established this social form. Groups are made up of 10 members, sometimes more.

Territories are established by a male who marks the group's territory by cutting the trunk of a small tree with a horny spur on the wrist, making an audible click, and leaving a scented scar on the tree.

These groups feed and groom each other, sleeping close to each other, just as groups of primates do.

We can appreciate the long tail of a lemur
We can appreciate the long tail of a lemur

Habitat

The lemur lives in the trees of forests and jungles of Magadagascar.

Distribution

The lemur is an animal native to the island of Madagascar, a large island off the southeast coast of Africa.

Food

The lemur is an omnivorous animal It feeds on fruits, berries, sprouts, nuts, leaves, and small animals such as insects, small birds, (bird's) eggs, and spiders.

The diet can vary between the different species. Some species are insectivorous, while others feed exclusively on foliage.

The food is searched in surrounding trees, but if they do not find the right food, they will go down to the ground to look for it.

Predators

The lemur has natural predators. Its biggest predator is pit (Cryptoprocta ferox) since it is the favorite food of this animal. Normally the lemur usually escapes as it has quick and agile reactions, but the fossa is a stubborn and fast animal, so they tend to become dinner.

Lemur leaning on a log
Lemur leaning on a log

Reproduction

The lemur reproduces seasonally, and females are fertile one day throughout the year. This is because they are influenced by the high seasonal availability of the resources in their environment.

Mating usually lasts less than three weeks a year. The female vagina only opens for a few hours or days of its most receptive heat.

The young are born after a gestation period between 2 - 5 months, which varies between species. The newborn calf clings to the lower part of the mother until it is large enough to ride on its back.

State of conservation

The biggest threat to lemurs is deforestation, since 90% of the Malagasy rainforest has been destroyed. This causes lemur populations to continually decline as they have fewer trees to live in.

Relationship with humans

Lemurs have been destroyed by humans for almost their entire existence. Most of it comes from habitat destruction, although hunting has also contributed. The destruction is such that only some species have become extinct and others are close to doing so.

Its limited distribution makes the genus disappear more quickly than other animal species.

Popular culture

In Malagasy culture, lemurs possess souls that can take revenge if they mock them alive or if they kill them cruelly. A village or region may believe that a certain type of lemur may be the ancestor of the clan. There is also a belief that they can take revenge or be a benefactor or impart good or bad qualities to human babies. They are usually full of taboos, locally known as Fady.

In Ambatofinandrahana, Fianarantsoa province, there is a report, dating from around 1970, where according to a man he brought home a lemur in a trap while he was still alive. The children wanted it as a pet, but the father forbade it as it was not a domestic animal. The children's response was to torture him to death and then be eaten. Shortly after, the children died of illness. This caused the father to declare that anyone who tortured a lemur for fun "will be destroyed and have no offspring."

Meanwhile, in the western world they have become really popular. A children's series, he helped popularize sifakas by featuring a live sifaka by Coquerel from the Duke Lemur Center, as well as a puppet. There was also a twenty-episode series called Lemur Kingdom (in the United States) or Lemur Street (in the United Kingdom and Canada) aired in 2008 on Animal Planet. It combined the typical animal documentary with dramatic storytelling to tell the story of two groups of ring-tailed lemurs from the Berenty Private Reserve.

Although perhaps the movie called Zoboomafoo was the one who really popularized the lemur in 1999. Much later they returned to have prominence in the movie Madagascar.

List of other interesting animals