A newborn ring-tailed lemur relies completely on its mother until five months of age and will ride on her underbelly or back until then.
Due to habitat loss and limited resources, ring-tailed lemurs typically live to 16 years, though the oldest lived to 33 years in captivity, and females live longer than males.
Ring-tailed lemurs are sympatric with 9 other primates within their range, but there is little direct competition for food, even during the dry season when resources are limited.
Ring tailed lemurs use scent in a variety of social contexts and will “handstand” and engage in “stink battles” in order to leave visual and olfactory signs.
Ring-tailed lemurs have long, narrow, specialized teeth in their lower jaws that project straight forward to form a dental comb to aid in grooming.
Ring-tailed lemur communication is complex as they utilize visual, vocal, olfactory, and tactile communication.
There is a high infant mortality rate in ring-tailed lemurs as 30-50% don’t survive their first year.
Ring-tailed lemurs travel in troops to deter predators that hunt singular prey, but are still predated by birds, fossas, civets, cats, snakes, and even other lemurs.
In the driest parts of the ring-tailed lemur’s range, water availability is a serious issue as vegetation availability is linked to rainfall.
Mother ring-tailed lemurs are the only ones to provide care for the young and will even care for the offspring of other females in the troop.
Ring-tailed lemurs contribute to the ecosystem by spreading seeds through their feces and acting as a food source for numerous animals.
Female ring-tailed lemurs are reproductively active at 2.5 years, but have a higher chance of conceiving and giving birth to healthy offspring at 3-4 years.
The tamarind tree is considered a keystone resource for ring-tailed lemurs and can provide up to 50% of the lemur’s diet.
Ring-tailed lemurs are the most terrestrial of lemurs; 70% of their travel is terrestrial as they walk quadrupedally with their tails held vertically.
Ring-tailed lemurs possess the most complex scent marking behavior of primates and use scent for territorial defense, mate evaluation, and intrasexual competition.
Along with other species of lemurs, ring-tailed lemurs are responsible for several wildlife reserves being put into place and protecting all other plant and animal species in the area.
Female ring-tailed lemurs typically mate with multiple males during estrous, so males will compete amongst themselves for the right to mate.
Ring-tailed lemurs have improved the economy of Madagascar as they are a common draw for ecotourism.
Ring-tailed lemurs begin mating in April and give birth to 1-2 offspring between August and September after a gestation of 130-144 days.
Because the ring-tailed lemur’s habitat has been altered by humans, their range is large, but their distribution is patchy and dependent on forest cover.
Ring-tailed lemurs are diurnal and search for food from dawn until dusk before huddling together at night to sleep.
Ring-tailed lemurs have four thin fingers and a thumb, with an opposable first toe on the lower appendage to help with climbing trees.
Ring-tailed lemurs have a complex social hierarchy in which females are dominant over males and stay within their native troop.
Ring-tailed lemurs are well-known for their thermoregulatory “sunning” postures, in which they sit upright with their forearms on their knees.
Because of their highly seasonal environment, ring-tailed lemurs are opportunistic omnivores and must exploit a wide variety of food sources throughout the year.
There is no physical sexual dimorphism in the ring-tailed lemur as male and females average the same size of 42.5cm and 2.2kg.
The fur of a ring-tailed lemur is thick and dense and is a solid color ranging from gray to brown being lighter around the face and underbelly.
Ring-tailed lemurs have overlapping home ranges, averaging 1,000m, that are seasonally expanded depending on habitat and habitat quality.
Madagascar’s lemurs, including the ring-tailed lemur, are the most endangered group of mammals and represent the highest primate conservation priority in the world.
The ring-tailed lemur is named for its long, thick, black-and-white-ringed tail and is the only lemur species to possess a striped tail.
Ring-tailed lemurs are found in rainforests, continuous canopy, humid montane, subalpine, dry deciduous, gallery, mixed, dry brush, and spiny thorn, scrub bush forests.
Ring-tailed lemurs are endemic to 9 forests in southern and southwestern Madagascar on the continent of Africa.