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All Creatures,

Episode 128: Red Ruffed Lemurs Fading Fast

December 10, 2019

Red Ruffed Lemurs are a critically endangered primate from the island of Madagascar. These highly charismatic animals are an example of the pressures many species are facing on this island nation. Due to habitat degradation and other human caused pressures, Madagascar is now recognized as one of the worst biodiversity crises we find ourselves in. However, many organizations are working extremely hard to ensure these lemurs and the other species on the island survive.

To read more about the crisis in Madagascar please visit wildmadagascar.org

Red Ruffed Lemur History

Lemurs are part of the group of primates called the “Prosimians.” These are a group of “lesser primates” that are neither apes or monkeys. These include all the other species of lemur and the loris. There are over 100 species of lemurs, divided onto various groups.  They are part of the Lemuroidae Super Family with a complex taxonomy of 8 families, 15 genera and about 105 species.

The Red Ruffed Lemur is part of the Genus species name is Varecia with the Black and White Ruffed Lemur. The Red Ruffed Lemur species name is Varecia rubra. These animals range in the north eastern portion of Madagascar. Red ruffed lemurs are restricted to the forests of the Masoala Peninsula near Maroantsetra in northeastern Madagascar. They have been seen just east of the Antainambalana River, which divides their range from that of the black and white ruffed lemurs.

Red Ruffed Lemur Facts

All lemurs have fingernails like humans and use their non-prehensile tails for balance and communication. Like other primates  they have 5 fingers on each arm and and 5 toes on each leg. Interestingly, on their second toes  they have a long claw  called a “toilet claw” used for grooming. Lemurs are also known for having a “tooth comb” which they use for grooming. Red Ruffed Lemurs can live to be around 25 years in the wild, can jump 25 feet (7.5 meters), can run 12 MPH (20 kph). Some of their predators include  the Fossa, hawks,  and snakes.

More lemur facts can be found HERE

Red Ruffed Lemur Conservation

These lemurs are classified as Critically Endangered. There not have been any dependable census data on these animals, but last count had them at maybe 10,000 but most likely much less than that. As the forests of Madagascar continue to disappear, so are many of these animals. However, many organizations are working hard to conserve lemurs.

Duke Lemur Center

Lemur Conservation Foundation 

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