The Kingdom of the Madagascar Lemur

Lemurs are found only on the large island of Madagascar, right off the south east coast of Africa, and on some tiny neighboring islands, the Comoro Islands. They are the smallest of all primates, best known for their large, round, reflective eyes and their wailing screams.

Verreaux’s Sifaka - Madagascar Lemur

There are approximately 105 known species and subspecies of lemurs inhabiting the island. This world-famous fascinating little monkey that looks something like a cat crossed with a squirrel and a dog has a slender body covered with soft thick fur that varies in size, color and markings.

Ring Tailed Lemur - Madagascar LemurMost Madagascar lemurs are reddish, brown, gray, or black. The Ring Tailed Lemur, or Madagascar Cat, is brownish gray on its back and has a black and white ringed tail.  The Fork Marked Lemur is reddish or brownish gray with black streaks from its eyes to the top of its head forming a stripe down its back. The Greater Weasel Lemur is brown or gray on its back and has white or yellow underparts.

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Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur - Madagascar LemurAnatomy Lemurs vary widely in size. The smallest are the Dwarf Lemurs and the Mouse Lemurs about 5 inches long (13 cm); the largest is the Ruffed Lemur, about 24 inches long (60 cm) and the Indri, from 60 to 80 cm tall with a tail of just 5cm and they can weigh as much as 15 pounds. Other large lemurs are the Brown Gentle Lemurs, from 14 to 18 inches long (34 to 45 cm).
Ring Tailed Lemur - Madagascar LemurAs per their tail, it is often longer than their body except for one species, the indri. Madagascar lemur isn’t able to hang from the tail but uses it only for balance.

Black Lemur - Madagascar Lemur

All lemurs have a long nose and four legs. Certain species have foxlike faces, but most have short muzzles and large, close-set eyes.
They sit or they stand up but they always walk on all fours, they can run jumping on twos. Lemurs are mainly nocturnal animals but they can be active during the day. They communicate through vocalization and scent markings: this primate is frequently heard making shrill or grunting noises.

Coronatus Sifaka Lemur - Madagascar LemurThey don’t see in color and they don’t have good vision overall but they rely on their sense of smell to help them get around and recognize each other.
Madagascar lemurs have nails on all fingers and toes except the second toe, which has a claw. Some lemurs have ridged pads on their palms and soles of their feet, others also have pads underneath the tips of their fingers and toes. The approximate life span of a lemur in the wild is about 18 years.

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Behavior Most Madagascar lemurs live in trees, leaping nimbly from branch to branch, and grouped in families up to 15 members where the females are the leaders deciding who stays and who goes. The grooming process is part of their social life. The strong bonded families have often plenty of internal conflicts over food and habitat: these may result in death if fighting escalates.

Lemur Baby - Madagascar LemurLemurs typically give birth in a tree hollow lined with a nest of leaves and produces one to four young, once or twice a year. More than half of all baby lemurs will die before they are mature which occurs at 2 years of age. The young will be carried around in their mother’s mouth for a couple of weeks after birth.

Ring Tailed Lemur - Madagascar LemurOnce they are strong enough they will hold onto her back and be carried around.They feed mainly on vegetation, but some also eat honey, insects and birds. When there isn’t much food, they will either slow down their metabolism or hibernate. Females can also shut down their need to mate when there is a shortage of food or shelter. They are the only known primates to hibernate.

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Conservation Madagascar Lemur is considered to be at the highest risk of extinction. This means that the lemur populations are declining rapidly. The biggest threat to the lemur is deforestation, with about the 90% of Madagascan jungle destroyed for timber and farming purposes. Popular stories and legends continue to threaten lemurs existence too. Most inhabitants still believe that these cute dreamy-eye creatures are a bad omen linked to evil spirits and so killings are constantly reported.

Ring Tailed Lemur - Madagascar LemurMoreover, hunting for bushmeat in addition to locals dealing with hunters coming from all over the world for the thrill of killing the legendary Lemurs of Madagascar Island. Another largely threat comes from introduced species such as the Indian civet and mongoose, but especially dogs and cats that have become feral.
The good news is that the island has become a top priority for global conservation due to its biodiversity. At the forefront of these efforts is the Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG), an international consortium of zoos and related organizations that work to protect Madagascar’s wildlife and ecosystems, and the Duke University Lemur Center, the world’s leading lemur research facility.

Documentary – ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR – TRAILER | Morgan Freeman from VIGO: Trailers & Clips on Youtube.

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Etimology “Lemur” derives from the latin word lemures which refers to specters or ghosts that were exorcised during the Lemuria festival of ancient Rome. Since Madagascar lemurs are mainly nocturnal animals, they have been viewed as spirits of the night also due to the ghost-like appearance, the reflective eyes, and the ghostly cries of the lemurs. Some Malagasy people have held legends that lemurs are the souls of their ancestors.

Cultural References In some legends they are described to be a great spirit that guides people, in others they have a grim look and are blamed for a variety of things that go wrong. Seeing a lemur was often a sign that something terrible was going to happen. In Roman Mythology, it was believed that these animals were the restless spirits of the undead and only a proper burial would help to prevent the dead to become lemures. Anyone having dreams about these animals was said to need forgiveness for something they had done.

One day in the Life of Sonya from Dmitry Sergeyev on Youtube.

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Exotic Pets Nowadays, owning an exotic pet is a status symbol and more and more people are on the lookout for unusual pets. Madagascar lemurs are intriguing primates, whose endearing personalities are making them sought-after pets. Getting a lemur has become the hottest fad lately! The fact that lemurs are called exotic pets, itself reveals that bringing them home as pets is not an easy task. It’s not only expensive, but also involves seeking a license, finding a breeder, locating a local veterinarian who is qualified to treat exotic animals, etc. Overall, getting and taking care of a lemur calls for a lot of effort, love, attention and money.

Lemur Kingdom from Chris Gargani on Vimeo.

Animal Planet offered a documentary called Lemur Kingdom. It is a great source of information that shows how these fun loving animals have been able to survive. It also shows the reality of them being hunted as food or for pets.

PBS NATURE: A Lemur’s Tale – Trailer from Questar Video on Youtube.

The documentary called the Lemurs Tale in Madagascar shows a group of Ring Tailed Lemurs and their interactions with each other. This really shows the bonds between such animals and their quest for ultimate survival.

The animated fun and delightful film Madagascar features singing and dancing Lemurs in it. This animated film has been a huge hit with people of all ages.

The lastest Avatar has a lemur pet that he relies on throughout his various adventures and in the Disney hit Dinosaur, the Madagascar lemur family is raising a dinosaur after an egg rolled and landed into their nest.

In the Wild: Operation Lemur, another successful natural history documentary following British comedian John Cleese as he travels to see Madagascar Lemurs in their native habitat.

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Enjoy pics of Madagascar Lemur.