This is a group of primates that lives exclusively on Madagascar and some of its surrounding islands. The ancestors of lemurs arrived on Madagascar about 40 million years ago, before most modern primates - monkeys and apes - had evolved. The 30 species of lemurs that survive today have evolved from one common ancestor to live in all the varied habitats on the islands.
This is the largest of all the lemurs. Distinguished by its long ruff, this lemur has white and black, brown or rufous fur. Lemurs are prosimians that are found exclusively on Madagascar and some surrounding islands. Ruffed lemurs live in trees, and, although they are good climbers, they are not as agile as some other species of lemur.
Ruffed lemurs are most active at dusk, and at this time it is possible to hear their mournful territorial calls. Sometimes just a pair of ruffed lemurs occupies a territory, but more often groups of about 15 individuals will live together, sharing the same home range.
There are two subspecies of ruffed lemur. One has mostly black fur with white markings; the other has mostly red fur with white markings.
As well as calls, ruffed lemurs use scent-marking to signal their territorial boundaries. The males mark branches and other objects with a secretion from glands found on their necks. Scent-marking males are seen rubbing their chests, necks and chins on to trees or on the ground. Sadly, like many lemurs, these beautiful animals are in danger of extinction due to the overexploitation of their habitat and also overhunting of the animals themselves for their meat and fur, and for commercial exportation.
In November, after a gestation period of between 99 and 102 days the female ruffed lemur produces between 1 and 3 young.
Distribution: Eastern Madagascar.
Habitat: Tropical forest.
Size: 51 - 56 cm (20 - 22 in); 3.2 - 4.5 kg (7 - 10 lb).
Maturity: 2 - 3.5 years.
Breeding: 1 - 6 young, most commonly twins.
Life span: 33 years.