Gray Mouse Lemur

Scientific Name: Microcebus murinus

photographer: Gabriella Skollar; editor: Rebecca Lewis
photographer: Gabriella Skollar; editor: Rebecca Lewis

Description

Thank goodness for the process of DNA or the Gray Mouse Lemur would most likely be miscategorized. This is a primate, not a rodent! They are very small and they are very different from other types of Lemurs found out there.

Anatomy

With an overall full grown weight of 2 ounces, this is easily the smallest of all Lemur species. Ironically though it is the largest one of all the mouse Lemur subspecies that have been identified. They are gray in color most of the year but the shade of it will depend on where they live. They do feature shades of red during the dry season. This helps them to continue being camouflaged by their surroundings.

All Gray Mouse Lemurs have a distinctive black stripe that runs down their back. This is a very easy wan to identify them from other mouse Lemurs and from any type of rodent out there. They have a long tail that helps them with leaping and top speed scurrying. The tip of the tail is bushy.

In order to survive in their environment this Lemur relies on its senses. They are able to see well and they can hear well too. This helps them to find places to rest, to find food, and they are able to do their best to get out of the way of any predators when they use these senses.

Author Arjan Haverkamp
Author Arjan Haverkamp

Evolution

We can only guess about what has occurred over time in the way of evolution for the Gray Mouse Lemur. Did the come from Africa to the Madagascar Islands as other species did? The other option is that they are derived from a branch of Lemurs that were living on these islands. We have no idea how old this particular species happens to be.

We don’t have any fossils of the Gray Mouse Lemur that date back millions of years. They may be out there but since they are so small we just haven’t found them yet. Finding some of them would certainly provide us with many more answers than we have today about evolution for them.

Gray Mouse Lemur Video

Behavior

There are some interesting behaviors of the Gray Mouse Lemur that set them apart from other primates. First, they are one of the few that take part in the process of hibernating. You may be puzzled about why they do so when it doesn’t get cold in that part of the world. Studies show that their food is in short supply during the dry season. Hibernating allows them to be able to survive in spite of it.

Socialization is a big part of Lemurs. However, this particular species doesn’t seem to have a need for it. They do come into contact with each other due to the limited habitat. However, they don’t form families so other than when they are mating or the mothers have young to care for they are on their own.

There is a great deal that we don’t know about their abilities. We do know that they are very fast and that they are nocturnal. Moving around at night allows them to find food that they need. They also are able to make nests inside the trees. This allows them to sleep during the day with the least threat of predators finding them.

Habitat and Distribution

It can be very tricky to locate the Gray Mouse Lemur on the Madagascar Islands. They hide very well in the trees so you have to know where to find them. They move often to help reduce the chances of predators finding them. They give powerful odors that can draw predators if they stay in one nest for too long. A period of 1 to 5 days is all they will stay.

They are very rarely going to be found on the ground. There are cases where they do though if they fell out of trees. That can result in serious injuries or death. It also makes them more vulnerable to the predators out there. They do tend to do better in areas where it is very warm. This includes the forest as well as the desert.

They are opportunistic when it comes to where they will live. They are able to adapt well to many changes in their environment. This can occur due to the changes of seasons, environmental factors, and even human disruptions.

Diet and Feeding Habits

The main diet for the Gray Mouse Lemur consists of insects and fruit. They will eat very small insects that they find out there at night. The fruits are a seasonal delight and they will consume them when they get the chance. These Lemurs eat lots of food when it is plentiful. They know they have to store up fat for the hibernation period if they are going to be able to survive.

Gray Mouse Lemur

Reproduction

One of the biggest problems in the wild is that the diverse locations of these Lemurs make mating hard. The females and males have to find each other due to the female only being in estrus for about three days. There is also the fact that the mature females will only have an estrus cycle for about five years. Then they no longer will be able to produce offspring.

It takes about 60 days from conception for the one or two young to emerge. They are extremely small and vulnerable. The mother will feed them milk from her body and they will be fully grown by the time they are two months old. However, less than half of them will live long enough to become mature. This is due to trapping by humans, falling from trees, and the threats of an assortment of predators out there.

Author Arjan Haverkamp
Author Arjan Haverkamp

Predators

There are several predators that rely on the Gray Mouse Lemur to offer them supplies of food. About ¼ of them that are eaten are the prey of various species of owls. They are able to get into the trees to find them. They are able to identify the nests from high in the sky and grab them in an instant.

There are snakes that live in the trees too so those Lemurs that live in that environment have to worry about such predators as well. The Fossa is a type of wild cat that will hunt for them when they find regular sources of food hard to come by. They can climb into the trees with ease.

Those that sit on the lower areas of the trees or that live in the desert also can be eaten by domestic dogs. The number of them in the Madagascar Islands have continued to increase steadily. Add to all of it that humans find them to be destroying the trees. They want to eliminate them from the trees so that they are more valuable when they cut them down to sell.

The destruction of their natural habitat has left the Gray Mouse Lemur more vulnerable to natural predators. It has also increased the difficulty of finding food to survive on. With many villagers placing traps out there for them they are at an all time low. There are conservation efforts in place but getting the numbers to increase is a very slow process.

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1 comment

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

They are absolutely gogeous and hopefully will be aroudn for a long time.

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