Geographic Distribution and Habitat
- Lemurs are endemic to the island of Madagascar, meaning they are only found on Madagascar and nowhere else in the world. On the island, these Lemurs are found inhabiting the eastern rainforest zone from the Andringitra Massif in the south, to the Tsaratanana Massif in the north. Within the rainforest, the Red- Bellied Lemur lives and forages in the primary and secondary rainforest at medium to high altitudes.
Size & weight
- These rare lemurs are about the same size as a house cat. Their mass range is about 2-3 kg (4.4 – 6.6 lbs.) and their average length is 36 - 54 cm (14.2- 21.3 in).
- The males and females of this species have differing appearances. The upper body of both the males and females is covered in long, dense reddish-brown fur. While the males’ underbellies continue to be reddish-brown color, females’ underbellies are a cream color.
- Both sexes have a dark gray face and muzzle. Around their eyes they have a white patch that looks like a teardrop. This is much larger and distinctive in the males than in the females. This teardrop marking distinguishes this species of lemur from the other species of lemurs that live in the same area.
- Both sexes have a tail that is black in color.
Behavior and Lifestyle
Females rule the family groups. They decide where to forage for the day in their home ranges.
Their mating patterns are seasonal. They mate between May and June and then females give birth between September and October.
Mothers carry the babies on their bellies for the first 2 weeks while nursing them. Then both parents take turns carrying the offspring till about 5 weeks when the mother starts to reject carrying them. This is when the father starts carrying them till they are about 100 days old.
Conservation Status and Threats
- These Lemurs are listed as Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List in 2007. This is due to great habitat loss on Madagascar. Slash-and-burn agriculture continues to be a problem that destroys habitats of many animals to make room for human agriculture. Illegal logging and hunting continues to be a major problem as well.
Some photos courtesy of ARKive.org
Written by Heidi Giancola, June 2016