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Ring-Tailed Lemur

Updated on February 25, 2016

Scientific Name: Lemur catta


You can’t find a more interesting looking Lemur out there than the Ring-Tailed Lemur! They certainly take on a look that you won’t forget once you see it. They aren’t confused with any other Lemurs, but sometimes they get mistaken for a small Raccoon due to the similarities in coloring. They are known to be able to use tools in captivity to help with problem solving. Studies that continue to challenge them help us to see the wide range of thought patterns these primates have.


The trademark rings of black and white around the thick tail are the way to know you are looking at a Ring-Tailed Lemur. The depend on that powerful tail to help them have the movements they need on land and in the trees. They use it to run fast and to jump while still maintaining their overall balance. They will never be seen hanging upside down by their tails though as some people believe.

The body of the Ring-Tailed Lemur is a dark gray with areas of black and white on it. They have small faces with round ears. They are able to hear very well and their vision is excellent both during the day and at night.

Habitat and Distribution

The Ring-Tailed Lemur has a very large range in the Madagascar Islands where they live. They are mainly found in the hot forest areas though. They love the heat and they find lots of their food in the forests. They tend to have a home that runs along the various rivers in this areas too. However they are highly versatile so they will move to where they have to in order to have enough food and shelter readily available.


One of the biggest mysteries of all Lemurs has to do with the question of where these primates came from. We do know that they started out in Africa and then moved into the Madagascar Islands. We also know that they used to be much larger than they are today. This is based on fossil remains that have been found and dates to millions of years ago.

There is no doubt that plenty of branching off has taken place over time with the Ring-Tailed Lemur. There are quite a few theirs about their evolution but nothing that has been able to be verified based on the information we have.

Ring-Tailed Lemur Video


The versatility of the Ring-Tailed Lemur is something that experts continue to be impressed by. They may be active during the day or they may only be out at night. It seems that the abundance of food in any region where they live has a strong influence over when they will be active.

This particular species of Lemur is found in the trees but they spend most of their time on land. Many believe that they only stay on land but that isn’t true. If they are finding more food in the trees then that is where they will be at. They spread out to find food so they often seem to be traveling alone. They use loud calls to gather at times and make nests once feeding efforts are done.
The females are the dominant individuals in the Ring-Tailed Lemur families. She gives off a scent that is very strong. That is likely what draws the rest of the family to her. She can be very aggressive, chasing off males or females as she sees fit. When food resources or low she may make members leave for the benefit of those that remain.

You will hear a wide variety of sounds coming from the Ring-Tailed Lemur. They offer them to have a way to relate to each other, to encourage the young, for mating, and to warn of dangers around them. They tend to make vocalization a high part of their social organization. This is more so than with the other species of Lemurs.

One of the characteristics of these Lemurs involves them laying out in the sunlight. They aren’t being lazy but sunbathing. They love the heat of the sun and they will spend plenty of time enjoying it whenever they can.

Diet and Feeding Habits

These Lemurs eat a diet hat consists of many types of fruit. However, these fruits are available seasonally so they have to move around to find them. When they can’t get any fruit they will eat lots of leaves. They will also live on insects, flowers, sap, and dried out wood if they have to. They will bypass these types of food sources though when they can get to fruit.


The mature males in a family of Ring-Tailed Lemurs become very aggressive when mating season comes around. They will offer the most scent that they can to get the females to take notice. Only one male per family will get to make with the mature females so they take this process very seriously.

There is information to suggest the females have a staggered period of estrus within a family group. This is how one male is able to successfully mate with all of them with a very short window of about three days of estrus per mature female. The young arrive in about 160 days. Usually there is just a single birth. When there are twins one is usually mush smaller and dies.

Ring-Tailed Lemur Video


There are only a few predators in the wild that the Ring-Tailed Lemur has to be concerned about. Different species of snakes can hide very well in the trees so they often have the element of surprise. Some species of hawks and buzzards can get them both on land and in the trees. They have good vision, speed, and sharp claws to get them without any warning.

A type of cat known as the Fossa is also found to consume them. However, they usually only do so in the dry season when their regular sources of food are harder to find. Many find it surprising to learn that both domestic dogs and cats are a threat to them as well.

People that live in the villages of Madagascar can be a threat to the Ring-Tailed Lemur as well. They often trap them so that they are able to eat them. Many of these villages lack adequate resources for supplying food. As a result they have to take very opportunity out there that they can find.

There are some programs in place to help conserve the natural environment of these Lemurs. The goal is to be able to reduce the number of forest areas where the live being cleared away. Yet you have arguments from villagers that they need this land to grow their own food supplies. There are some people that come from around the world to hunt the Ring-Tailed Lemur. They want the unique experience of a hunt that most other people never get the chance to have.

The future is very grim for the Ring-Tailed Lemur is things continue down the path that is taking place right now. Aggressive efforts including reserves where the Lemurs are protected, breeding programs, and public awareness continue in the hopes that they will be enough to save these Lemurs from future destruction.


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  • profile image

    Funcards 4 years ago

    Thanks for this informative hub! I really love lemurs, not only are they really beautiful animals with amazing skills, but they are so sweet and caring towards each other.

  • profile image

    Super mario 4 years ago

    love this sight. It helped me with my school project on animals! Thanks!

  • SidKemp profile image

    Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

    Thanks for this awesome hub. I've enjoyed lemurs for over 45 years, since I studied Madagascar in junior high school. I appreciate the trip down memory lane.

  • Nomascus concolor profile image

    Nomascus concolor 5 years ago from A Country called Earth

    Ringed tailed lemurs are fascinating! I believe they got very popular when King Julian was rocking in the movie Madagascar - but I always had a passion for these lemurs and their zebra tail! So cute! Great hub with lots of quality info! Thanks

  • laurentmikhail profile image

    Laurent Mikhail 6 years ago from Miami, FL

    Thanks for you comments. They encourage me to keep posting. Thank your son too.

  • profile image

    Zach 6 years ago

    My 8 year old son and I say thank you for the post.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    They are so beautiful and thank you for your research and and article.

  • laurentmikhail profile image

    Laurent Mikhail 7 years ago from Miami, FL

    Yes,there are other species, take a look to Lemurs are endemic of Madagascar

  • Seeker7 profile image

    Helen Murphy Howell 7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Fascinating and what a beautiful animal!! Are there many other species of Lemur? And do they all come from the same part of the world?