Red Ruffed Lemur

name = Red Ruffed Lemur [MSW3 Groves|pages=117]
status = EN
status_system = iucn3.1
trend = down
status_ref = IUCN2008|assessors=Andrainarivo, C., et al|year=2008|id=22920|title=Varecia rubra|downloaded=06 Oct 2008 Listed as Endangered (EN B1ab(iii,v) v3.1)]

regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Primates
familia = Lemuridae
genus = "Varecia"
species = "V. rubra"
binomial = "Varecia rubra"
binomial_authority = É. Geoffroy, 1812

range_map_caption=Distribution of "Varecia rubra"cite book | author = Mittermeier, Russell A., et al. | title = Lemurs of Madagascar | edition = 2nd Edition | pages = 303-323 | publisher = Conservation International | year = 2006 | isbn=1-881173-88-7]

The Red Ruffed Lemur ("Varecia rubra") is one of two species in the genus "Varecia", the ruffed lemurs; the other is the Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur ("Varecia variegata"). Like all lemurs, it is native to Madagascar and occurs only in the rainforests of Masoala, in the northeast of the island. It is one of the largest primates of Madagascar with a body length of 53 cm, a tail length of 60 cm and a weight of 3.5–4 kg. Its soft, thick fur is red and black in colour but a few are known to have a white or pink patch on the back of the neck and a ring on the base of the tail in a similar color.

There is also another species of ruffed lemur that is similar to the Red Ruffed Lemur; the Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur. They both live in the rainforest along the east coast of Madagascar, but they don't associate with each other.

Physical characteristics

The Red Ruffed Lemur weighs 3.5-4 kg. It is about 53 cm long, with a 60 cm tail.cite web | url = | title = Duke Primate Center Red Ruffed Lemur | accessdate = 2006-04-05] Females are slightly larger than males.cite web | url = | title = Red Ruffed Lemur factsheet | accessdate = 2007-04-16]

As its name would suggest, it has a rust-coloured ruff and body. Its head, stomach, tail, feet, and the insides of its legs are black. It has a white patch on the back of its neck, and may also have white markings on its feet or mouth.


The Red Ruffed Lemur is a very clean animal and spends a lot of time grooming itself and each other. The lower insisors (front teeth) and the claw on the second toe of the hind foot are specially adapted for this behavior. The lower insisors grow forward in line with each other and are slightly spaced. This creates a toothcomb which can be used to groom its long, soft fur. The claw is also used for grooming. The Red Ruffed Lemur lives 15–20 years in the wild. In captivity, 25 years is not uncommon, and one lived to be about 33 years old. It is a diurnal animal, and most active in the morning and evening.cite web | url = | title = Animal Info - Ruffed Lemur | accessdate = 2007-04-16]

ocial systems

This prosimian typically lives in small, matriarchal groups of 2-16 individuals, but group sizes of up to 32 have been recorded. Its diet consists primarily of fruit, nectar, and pollen. Leaves and seeds may be eaten when fruit becomes scarce.

Breeding and reproduction

Unlike all other diurnal primates, females build nests 10-20 m off the forest floor, made with twigs, leaves, vines, and fur. Like all lemurs, and many Madagascan mammals, it has a fixed breeding season which takes place towards the end of the dry season (May to July). This is so the young can be born in the wet season when more food is available. Ruffed lemurs are also the only primates with litters of young, and, after a gestation period of 102 days, the female may give birth to up to six, although two or three is more typical. Newborns have fur and can see, but as they are immobile, the female leaves them in the nest until they are seven weeks old. Weaning occurs at four months. It is estimated that 65% of young do not reach three months of age, and often die by falling from the trees.


The Red Ruffed Lemur is mainly a fruit-eater, though is known to eat leaves and shoots.


The Duke Lemur Center has recorded about twelve different calls. The Red Ruffed Lemur and Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur understand each other's calls, despite living in different parts of Madagascar. Scent marking is also an important means of communication.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List considers the Red Ruffed Lemur to be endangered, listing habitat loss, hunting, and the pet trade as primary threats. The creation of the Masoala National Park in 1997 has helped protect this species, but many Red Ruffed Lemurs do not live within the park's boundaries, and are still at high risk.

The exact status of the Red Ruffed Lemur in the wild is not fully known, but recent studies show that they are endangered with a declining wild population. At present, there are over 200 Ruffed Lemurs in 42 different zoos worldwide.Fact|date=August 2008 Several of these zoos work with each other in breeding and caring for the captive population. To prevent inbreeding, wild caught animals have been introduced to the captive breeding program.


External links

* [ Red Ruffed Lemur research]

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