Ring-Tail Lemur

Lemur catta

The ring-tailed lemur is a large primate most recognized due to its long, black and white ringed tail.

Like all lemurs it is endemic to the island of Madagascar where it inhabits gallery forests in the southern regions of the island. It is omnivorous and the most terrestrial of lemurs.

The animal is diurnal, being active exclusively in daylight hours.

The ring-tailed lemur is highly social, living in groups of up to 30 individuals. It is also female dominant, a trait common among lemurs. To keep warm and reaffirm social bonds, groups will huddle together.

The ring-tailed lemur will also sunbathe, sitting upright facing its underside, with its thinner white fur towards the sun. Like other lemurs, this species relies strongly on its sense of smell and marks its territory with scent glands.

The males perform a unique scent marking behavior called spur marking and will participate in stink fights by impregnating their tail with their scent and wafting it at opponents.

As one of the most vocal primates, the ring-tailed lemur uses numerous vocalizations including group cohesion and alarm calls. Experiments have shown that the ring-tailed lemur, despite the lack of a large brain, can organize sequences, understand basic arithmetic operations and preferentially select tools based on functional qualities.

Despite being listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List and suffering from habitat destruction, the ring-tailed lemur reproduces readily in captivity and is the most populous lemur in zoos worldwide, numbering more than 2,000 individuals. It typically lives 16 to 19 years in the wild and up to 27 years in captivity.