What they appear to be
Ring-tailed lemurs are distinguished by their raccoon-like markings, which include black-rimmed eyes and a tail with 13-14 alternating black and white bands. Their fur is tawny to grey, with darker grey on the crown and muzzle. They are about the size of a house cat and weigh 2.5 to 3 kilogrammes (about 6 pounds), but they are longer, measuring an average of 17 inches from the top of the head to the end of their spectacular 24-inch tail.
Ringtail lemurs spend 40% of their time on the ground, unlike most other lemurs. They walk on four legs along the woodland floor.
Ring-tailed lemurs have distinctive teeth! The lower incisors and canines have been squeezed tightly in this unusual dental adaption. Lemurs groom themselves and the other group members using their tooth comb.
How do they communicate?
Ring-tailed lemurs are frequently observed communicating through loud, screeching sounds. They also use scent communication to mark their territories and fight for dominance, thanks to scent glands. Ring-tailed lemurs have also been observed communicating through facial and language expressions. Finally, these ring-tailed lemurs' tails are used to communicate warnings and are waved at any competing group.
Fun facts about ring-tailed lemur
- Ring-tailed lemur males put scents from glands in their bottoms on their tails and wave them at rivals. It's referred to as "stink fighting"!
- Because it is so well-known, the ring-tailed lemur is used as a symbol for Madagascar and endangered animals on the island.
- The tail of the ring-tailed lemur is longer than its body!
- Because of its cat-like appearance, the ring-tailed lemur's Latin name is 'catta.'
- Ring-tailed lemurs have two tongues! They have a primary tongue and an under-tongue.
Ring-Tailed Lemur Lifestyle
Troops, the collective name for these creatures' big living groups, can include up to 20 members. Females are the dominant members of this group, and they stay with their troops their entire lives. A single dominant female leads the entire troop. Males do not typically stay within a single troop, leaving every couple of years to find new troops.
Troops make their homes in different forest types on the island of Madagascar. Of the various forests available, ring-tailed lemurs are most commonly found in forests with thick, covering canopies. Despite their affinity for forest habitats, ring-tailed lemurs spend much of their time on the forest floor. The time spent within the canopies is usually reserved for sleeping or foraging. Ring-tailed lemurs start their day by sunning.
Ring-tailed lemurs are active in the morning and sleep in the early afternoon, becoming active again in the late afternoon before retiring for the night after sunset. They enjoy sunbathing in the mornings, sitting with their legs outstretched and their stomachs facing the sun.
Around the age of three, female ring-tailed lemurs reach sexual maturity, and from that point on, they typically give birth once a year. Every year, the females have one to two days of sexual receptivity, with estrus lasting only 6 to 24 hours. The gestation period is approximately 4.5 months, and the young are born in August and September because the breeding season begins in mid-April. In times of plenty of food, twins are more prevalent than the usual one-child delivery for females.
The newborn will cling to its mother's belly for around two weeks, following which it can be seen riding jockey-style on her back. After about a month, they start to become increasingly independent. They return to their mother to nurse or sleep until they are weaned at around five or six months of age. All of the adult females raise the group young.
What do ring-tailed lemurs eat?
Ring-tailed lemurs are often classified as frugivores or omnivores. They eat fruits, flowers, leaves, bark, sap, insects, and occasionally soil for minerals. Their diet is generally influenced by the environment in which they live and the season (wet season versus dry season).
Ring-tailed lemurs play an essential role in seed dispersal as well. When lemurs eat fruit, they consume the seeds as well. The seeds then pass through the lemur's digestive system undigested and end up in the forest in their faeces. Many of these seeds will eventually grow into new trees!
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