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Facts about Lemurs

Madhavi Ghare
Lemurs are primates, endemic to the island nation of Madagascar. This AnimalSake post is a compilation of some interesting facts about these curious-looking animals.
Most people were probably introduced to lemurs through the animated movie Madagascar. These cute and cuddly looking animals are native to the island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
Their name is derived from the Latin word Lemures which means 'spirits of the night' or 'ghosts'. This is probably because many species of lemurs are nocturnal.
Lemurs are members of the class of primates known as 'Prosimians' which means 'primitive simians'. The species include:
  • Red ruffed lemur
  • Indri
  • Alaotran gentle lemur
  • Aye-aye
  • Black and white ruffed lemur
  • Ring-tailed lemur
These animals really are small in size. The smallest species weighs about 30 grams, while the largest weighs about 10 kilograms.


Lemurs have long and pointed noses. Their color and size varies, depending upon their species. They have four legs and a tail, which sometimes is longer than the body.
Lemurs have opposing thumbs and long grasping toes, mostly covered with nails instead of claws.
They also have a reflective layer over their retina which causes their eyes to shine in the night. It is said that they have a limited vision of color.
Lemurs depend heavily on their sense of smell, with their large nasal cavities that are quite moist. They have scent glands on the bottom of their paws which leave their signature scent as they move around.

Life and Lifestyle

These animals are primarily arboreal. However, the larger species may also live on the ground. They move around by jumping across branches.
Some species are nocturnal (active at night), whereas some others are diurnal (active by day). Their diet comprises nuts, fruits, and berries found on the trees they inhabit.
Sometimes, they also eat small insects or smaller animals. Lemurs live and move about in groups, which are primarily matriarchal. The average lifespan of a lemur is about eighteen years.

Lemurs: An Endangered Species

Lemurs are an important and integral part of the ecology of Madagascar. They eat fruits and berries and throw the seeds on the ground, promoting pollination.
However, modern life has begun to take its toll on the lives of these creatures. Rapid and relentless deforestation has wrecked havoc on lemur populations on the island.
A few species like the Aye-aye, for instance are considered to be an inauspicious omen and are therefore trapped and killed. These cumulative causes have led them to be classified as endangered, with nineteen species thought to be vulnerable to extinction.
It is all up to us to protect and preserve these wonderful creatures which are actually an invaluable part of the ecological system of the island of Madagascar.
Many people are coming forward and taking a stand for the conservation and preservation of the forest land and trees so that the natural habitat of the lemurs is not destroyed, and these cute furry animals are not lost to the world forever.