Ring-tailed Lemur

(Lemur Catta)

Ring-tailed lemur backs are gray to rosy brown with gray limbs and dark gray heads and necks. They have white bellies. Their faces are white with dark triangular eye patches and a black nose. True to their name, ring-tailed lemurs’ tails are ringed with 13 alternating black and white bands.

Initially, infants cling to their mothers’ bellies but can be seen riding, jockey style, on their backs after approximately three weeks. Infants begin to sample solid food after their first week and will take their first steps away from mom at 3-4 weeks. Over the next five months, infants will spend increasing amounts of time on their own, returning to mom to nurse or sleep, until they are finally weaned at 5-6 months of age.

Ring-tailed lemurs’ diet consists of fruit, leaves, flowers, bark, sap, and the occasional invertebrate. Due to the fact that vegetation in forests inhabited by these lemurs is sparse and non-continuous, they are often found traveling on the ground.

Although widely distributed throughout the dry forests of southwestern Madagascar (some of the hottest, driest, and least hospitable forests in the country), they exist in only a few protected areas. Ring-tail groups are larger than any other lemur group, containing up to 30 animals. There is a well-defined hierarchy within each group. Females are dominant over all males with the alpha female forming the focal point for the group as a whole.

One of the most vocal primates, ring-tails have a large vocabulary of at least 28 different calls. Male ring-tails have scent glands on their wrists, chest, and scrotum — and each produces a different scent. Females have just one scent gland, which is located in the genital area. Male ring-tails are equipped with scent glands on their wrists which are used in stink fighting with rival males. Two males stand facing each other a few feet apart and, repeatedly drawing their tails through these glands, proceed to wave the tails over their heads, all the while staring in a hostile fashion at their rival. Eventually, one of the males will break down and run away.

Information collected from https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/ring-tailed-lemur and https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/ring-tailed-lemur