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093

ruffed lemur

OLogy Series
animal
card
093

ruffed lemur

OLogy Series
animal

In the wild, ruffed lemurs live in only one place -- the eastern rain forests of Madagascar. Lemurs are prosimians, which means they belong to a group of primates that existed for millions of years, long before monkeys, apes, or humans appeared. Lemurs are endangered because their habitat is being destroyed and also because people hunt them for food.

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Ruffed lemurs are endangered because their rain forest homes are being destroyed. They are also heavily hunted for food. Since lemurs survive well in zoos, conservationists are trying to repopulate the rain forests by relocating "zoo lemurs." In 1997, scientists moved five ruffed lemurs from a zoo to Madagascar. On the first day, the team predicted that the lemurs would stick close to their cages, which were stocked with monkey chow. Mmmm, good! But the lemurs had other plans! In minutes, all the lemurs ran away from the release site. Then it turned out that the radio-tracking equipment that tracks the location of animals such as lemurs was on the blink! So the scientists had to chase the lemurs on foot, which was exhausting. After a few days, they decided that all of the lemurs seemed in good condition.

Lemurs make sounds known as "alarm calls" when:

any predators are in the area

it's time to eat dinner

it's time to wake up in the morning

Are you right?

Correct!

When predators such as boa constrictors, eagles, or hawks are spotted, lemurs make loud alarm calls to alert other lemurs of danger.

Ruffed lemurs got their name because they:

like to ruffle their fur

play rough games with friends

have a tuft of hair around their heads

Are you right?

Correct!

Ruffed lemurs are named for the black-and-white puffs of fur that surround their heads.

The female ruffed lemur always carries her young with her when she searches for food.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

The mother ruffed lemur parks her infant on a branch or in a nest as she searches for fruit, seeds, leaves, and nectar.

Ruffed lemurs use their teeth to groom each other.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Most primates groom each other with their fingers. But ruffed lemurs clean each other's fur with their six bottom teeth, called the toothcomb.

ruffed lemur
Scientific name: Varecia variegata
Size: eight to nine pounds (about three to four feet long)
Habitat: tropical forests of Madagascar
Diet: fruit, nectar, seeds, and leaves
Characteristics: one of the largest lemurs, it's a forest dweller; long, soft, black and white fur
Significance: on the Endangered Species List because of overhunting and habitat destruction

Image credits: courtesy of Duke University Primate Center.