The ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) is the best-studied and most recognizable species of Malagasy lemur. They are the most terrestrial of lemurs and are identified by their striking black and white, ringed tails. When ring-tail troops travel they raise their banded tails high in the air like flags, signaling each other to follow.
ACTIVITY: Find this species on our interactive primate tree.
Ring-tail mating rituals are a sight to smell. Two males vying for a female’s attention will engage in a “stink fight” where they repeatedly draw their tails across stink glands located in their wrists. Once good and smelly, they wave their tails above their heads, to prove which one is the most pungent. The smelliest one wins.
JUST THE FACTS
Common Name: Ring-tailed Lemur
Species: Lemur catta
Common Classification: Prosimian
Range Countries: Madagascar
Habitat: Inhabit grasses, shrub mosaic, tropical monsoon, and dry forest
Head and Body length: 425 mm Distinguishing features:
Tail length: 600 mm
Weight: male - 2,795 g; female - 2,678 g
Common name is given because they have a long and strikingly contrasting black and white banded tail, back is gray to brown, face, ears and under-parts are white, eyes are surrounded with a triangular dark brown patch of hairDiet:
Primarily eat fruit, but supplement diet with leaves, flowers, bark, sap and herbsBehavior:
Semi-terrestrial, diurnal, group size ranges from 3 to 20 individuals with the average number being on the higher end, females dominant with males transferring between groupsThreats:
Major threats include land clearing for grazing, firewood and charcoal production, also hunted for food and captured for the pet trade
CALLS AND CRIES