Lemur | The lemurs is a primate native to the island of Madagascar, a large island off the south east coast of Africa. There are approximately 10 different species of lemur inhabiting the island where the lemurs spend most of their time in the trees. Lemurs are best known for their large, round reflective eyes and their wailing screams. Lemurs also have furry, pointed ears and long tails, with lemurs often being compared to both monkeys and squirrels. The lemur will eat most small things from berries, nuts and leaves to insects and spiders and therefore the lemur has an omnivorous diet. Lemurs get most of their food from the surrounding trees but lemurs will occasionally forage for grub on the forest floor if they have no luck in the branches.
The black and white ruffed lemur, the russet mouse lemur, the woolly lemur, the aye aye and the ring tail lemur are among the most common species of lemur found in Madagascar, although the Aye Aye is considered to be a species of lemur very different from the rest, mainly due to the long middle fingers of the aye aye which it uses to get food out of holes. There are four main types of lemur containing nearly 100 different lemur subspecies between them. The biggest threat to the lemur is deforestation, with around 90% of the Madagascan jungle having been destroyed. This means that the lemur populations are declining rapidly as the lemur has fewer trees to make its home in.
The apex predator of Madagascar, the fossa, is also a big threat to the lemur, as lemurs are one of the favourite meals of a fossa. The lemur has fast reactions and is very agile which allows it to try to escape the fossa, but the fossa is a very stubborn and lightening quick animal, so the lemur generally becomes dinner. The most commonly known species of lemur is the ring-tailed lemur. with this lemur being very distinctive by the black and white ring markings on the lemurs tail. The ring-tailed lemur has a grey coloured fur and white tufts on its ears. Lemurs are small-medium sized primates with adult lemurs growing to a maximum of around 70 cm tall (plus their long tail which is often nearly as long as the body of the lemur). Lemurs also have sharp claws on their feet which enable the lemur to hold onto tree branches, particularly useful when the lemur is trying to escape from a hungry fossa!
Lemurs are one of the few animals that live in a matriarchal society, which means that the female lemurs have more control over the group than the male lemurs. These lemur groups however, behave in a very similar way to other primates as they feed and groom each other, as well as sleeping close to one another. It is not known why lemurs exhibit this rare form of social structure.