In the driest parts of the ring-tailed lemur’s range, water availability is a serious issue as vegetation availability is linked to rainfall.
In the driest parts of the ring-tailed lemur’s range, water availability is a potentially serious issue as vegetation availability is strictly linked to rainfall.
The lemurs are able to obtain water from succulent plants, including aloe and prickly pear cactus, as well as from dew and water that accumulates in crevices such as tree holes.
During the rainy season, from roughly October through April, fruit and young leaves become available to ring-tailed lemurs. There are two peaks in fruit availability, from October to November and from March to April. Flower availability peaks before the start of the rainy season and is another important food source.
During the dry season, the tamarind tree is one of the only sources of fruit. Throughout this time, even mature leaves can be scarce and ring-tailed lemurs eat dry, desiccated leaves, which are more difficult to digest. During this time of year, young leaves are found only on a few tree or shrub species and are distributed patchily. Flowers, fruit, and young leaves are at the lowest levels during June and July, when barely any rain falls. This is the period of highest nutritional stress for ring-tailed lemurs and they rely heavily on tamarind trees during this time of year.
Sources: (Cawthon Lang, 2005; Jolly, 2003; Sauther, 1998)
Image: Mathias Appel