Ring-tailed lemurs

Scientific name:

Lemur catta

Toledo Zoo Family:

We have a family group of lemurs here at the Toledo Zoo: the two mothers (Fanta and Fresca) are twins, and they are on exhibit with their two juveniles.  Fresca gave birth on March 20th (to Julien, a male), and Fanta closely followed on March 25th (Jolly, a female).  The lemurs can be seen snuggling in a lemur ball, wrestling, foraging, sunning, and running around the exhibit.  The father and older brothers were recently sent to another zoo. 


Fanta - Photo by Toledo Zoo keeper Kate Clifton


Jolly and Julien - Photo by Toledo Zoo keeper Kate Clifton


The video below shows two of the lemur babies when they were a few weeks old:

Range and habitat:

Ring-tailed lemurs are native to dry, spiny forests in South Madagascar.

Natural diet:

These lemurs mainly eat fruit, but will also eat leaves and flowers.

Zoo diet:

Fruit, vegetables, flowers, lettuce and monkey chow.

Size / weight range:

Ring-tailed lemurs are 15 to 18 inches long, with tails between 22 and 25 inches. They weigh 5 to 8 pounds.

Social structure:

Ring-tailed lemurs live in social groups called troops that can number more than 20 individuals with several males and females, but the hierarchy is female-dominated. All females in the group are dominant to all the males in the group.

Life history:

They gestate for about 4 months and mature around age 2. In zoo environments, they live up to age 20.

Interesting facts:

Their scientific name “catta” means “cat.” They do have lots of similarities to cats, but they are not related.

They are most active during the day and spend lots of time on the ground, foraging. But they do spend a lot of time sleeping and snuggling in a “lemur ball” to keep warm and reaffirm social bonds. They also spend a lot of time socializing by grooming. They use a specialized “tooth comb” that consists of 6 teeth pointing forward that helps get through their dense fur.
 
Their most developed sense is their sense of smell. They have several scent glands (wrist, armpit, anogenital), and rub them against objects to mark their territory. Our dominant male frequently rakes his wrists across the mesh to release scent and impress females, using the black, callous-like areas on his wrists called spurs. Males also use their wrist scent glands for “stink fighting,” when they rub their scent on their tails and then waft their tails at opposing males. They also waft their scent at females to impress them.
 
Ring-tailed lemurs love to sunbathe. You’ll often see them in the sun, sitting upright with their white bellies facing the sun and leaning back with their legs spread and arms outstretched in a “Buddha” pose.
 
Lemurs have several types of vocalizations. They have a loud “bark” as an alarm call, a soft purr for contentment, quiet grunts to contact-call and a territorial “howl.” They also use their black-and-white striped tails to communicate with each other, to find one another or to alert each other that a predator is near.

They are extremely seasonal breeders, with the females all coming into estrous within a few days of each other. But they are fertile for just one day. In zoo environments, most mating occurs in the late fall, with babies born in the spring. 

Location at the Toledo Zoo:

Primate Forest.
You may also see our ring-tailed lemurs on the Primate Cam by visiting our Animal Web Cams page!

Conservation status:

Near threatened due to habitat loss.