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Ring-tailed lemur

Lemur catta

Ring-tailed lemur

The ringed-tail of this lemur has a lot of uses. It is used for balance as they climb through the trees. When out foraging for food, ring-tailed lemurs hold their tails aloft which helps keep the group together. The tail is also used as a warning and waved at any rival group.

Rival groups of ring-tailed lemurs will also have 'stink fights'. They rub their tails on special scent glands and flick the smells towards their rivals. Like most lemur species the females are dominant and will lead the group, which can often include up to 50 individuals.

Animal class

Rainforest and forest

Diet - Omnivore
Lemurs eat fruit, leaves, flowers, insects, bark and sap.

They can measure up to 42 centimetres (cm) and their tails can be up to 60cm. Lemurs can weigh up to three kilograms.

Ring-tailed lemurs live in arid, open areas and forests in southwest Madagascar.

Conservation status
Ring-tailed lemurs are listed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. They are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future.

The loss of habitat due to the development of farmland, overgrazing by livestock and the harvesting of trees for charcoal production are the biggest threats facing the lemurs. They are also hunted as food and kept as pets.

Current population
There are more than 10,000 lemurs left in the wild but, because their range is decreasing daily, their population is also declining.

Zoo population
There is an EEP for ring tailed lemurs. There are around 3,500 ring tailed lemurs living in zoos around the world.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

EEP - European Endangered Species Programme

Related links

Our other lemurs