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Ring-tailed Lemur

  • Order: Primates
  • Family: Lemuridae
  • Genus: Lemur
  • Species: catta
Fun Fact

The word “lemur” means ghost in Madagascar, probably because the animals can be elusive in the forests of the island. Lemurs are thought to be the oldest living representative of the primate order. Lemurs may have been here longer than monkeys and apes, but they are more primitive than other primates.

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About Ring-tailed Lemurs

Ring-tailed lemurs get their name from their distinctive tail, which is black and white and shows a ringed pattern on the fur. They have gray or rosy brown fur on their backs with lighter gray or brown hind legs and white stomachs. Their faces are also white with black marks around their eyes and black noses. They weigh 6–8 pounds and are 15–18 inches long, not including the tail. Their tails alone can measure up to 24 inches in length, longer than their head and body. They are diurnal, meaning active during the day, and are very vocal.

Ring-tailed lemurs live in social groups ranging from 5–25 members. Lemur groups are matriarchal, meaning that the females are the dominant gender. In general, females stay with the group that they were born into, while males tend to wander from group to group. A troop of ring-tailed lemurs needs 15–22 acres of dense forest and up to 57 acres of scrub habitat in which to find enough food. Because these lemurs are territorial, there is little, if any, overlap in these foraging areas.

Ring-tailed Lemurs in the Wild


Ring-tails are unique since they spend more time looking for food on the ground than any other species of lemur. They live in many different types of forests from deciduous forests to arid bush forests.


Found on the island of Madagascar


Considered opportunistic omnivores, they will eat almost anything that is available. They primarily eat fruits and leaves, but will also eat flowers, herbs, tree bark, dirt and sap. They have been observed eating spider webs, small insects and small birds and lizards.

Population Status

According the IUCN’s Red List, the ring-tailed lemur is “endangered." The reason that they are considered endangered is due to the rapid loss of habitat in their native Madagascar and fragmentation of habitat.

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