10 Stunning Lemurs You’ve Never Heard Of (Slideshow)

If you conjure up a mental image of a lemur, what does it look like?

The chances are good that your mental picture has a grey body, a white face with black eye-fur, and a long, black-and-white banded tail: a ring-tailed lemur, or Lemur catta. These lemurs are the most well-known species of lemur, and are featured in everything from movies and television to children’s toys and cereal boxes.

Ring-tailed lemurs are appealing and interesting, of course: they love to sunbathe, and males daub their tails with scent to participate in so-called “stink fights.”

However, many lesser-known lemur species are just as fascinating as the ring-tailed lemur (and, sadly, often much more endangered). Read on to learn more about some of Madagascar’s magnificent lemur species.


10. Crowned Lemur (Eulemur coronatus) ó above

Crowned lemurs are named for the V-shaped, crown-like marking they have on their forehead. They live in close-knit, female-led social groups on the northern tip of Madagascar. They’re one of the few lemur species that dares cross the tsingy (razor-sharp limestone rock formations): every night before sunset, groups carefully climb through the sharp rocks to reach a safer resting place. Their incisors and canine teeth form a special “toothcomb,” which they use for grooming and tidying their fur.

They are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Photo Credit: Eulemur_coronatus.JPG: Natalie Becker (nano)derivative work: WolfmanSF (Eulemur_coronatus.JPG) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

9. Eastern Woolly Lemur (Avahi laniger)

The Eastern woolly lemur lives in humid forests throughout eastern Madagascar. They do not live in social groups like the crowned lemur does; instead, they prefer to live in monogamous pairs, along with their offspring. They are nocturnal; pairs of woolly lemurs split up during the first and last hours of the night to forage for food, but keep in contact with each other across the forest using high-pitched whistles. During the day, they sleep in dense, low tree foliage.

They are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.

Photo Credit: Leonora Enking [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

8. Greater Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus major)

Greater dwarf lemurs live in forests throughout Madagascar’s northern and eastern coasts. They are nocturnal, and spend their days asleep either in leaf-padded tree hollows or in nests made out of of twigs, leaves, and grass. They mostly eat flowers, fruits, and nectar, sometimes spending a full seven minutes licking nectar from a single flower before moving on to their next snack. Although Madagascar’s dry season brings food scarcity, they are able to survive by going dormant and by storing fat in their tails. They are solitary animals.

They are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.

Photo Credit: Adam Britt (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

7. Indri (Indri indri)

Indris are one of the two largest lemur species, with a head to body length of 64Ė72 cm (2.10Ė2.36 ft). They live in lowland and montane forests on Madagascar’s eastern coast. They pair up monogamously, only seeking a new mate if their partner dies. Their main method of movement is leaping between trees: they can leap almost 33 ft (10 m) in a single bound! Like the crowned lemurs, they have a toothcomb, which they also use to scoop out seeds and pits of fruits before eating them. They are perhaps most notable for their loud, haunting song, which can be heard from a mile away. (Listen to it here.)

They are classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

Photo Credit: Zigomar (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

6. Golden Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur aureus)

Another common name for bamboo lemurs is gentle lemurs; while they’re no more or less gentle than any lemur species, they do appear rather serene, don’t they? However, since golden bamboo lemurs live only in a small stretch of forest in southeastern Madagascar, they are increasingly imperiled by habitat loss. As is suggested by their name, their primary food is bamboo. Startlingly, the species of bamboo they feed on contains a high amount of cyanide in its pith, so they end up consuming 12 times the lethal dosage of cyanide every single day (it’s currently unknown how their bodies manage to process it). They live in small groups of 2-6 individuals, and are most active at twilight.

They are classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

Photo Credit: Rachel Kramer (email) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

5. Silky Sifaka (Propithecus candidus)

Silky sifakas (pronounced shee-FA-kah or shee-FAK) are one of the rarest and most endangered mammals on earth, occurring only in fragmented sections of rainforest in northeastern Madagascar. They live in groups of 2-9 individuals, and often engage in social behaviors like grooming and playing; females have even been known to nurse infant sifakas that are not their own. They spend much of their time up in trees, and often make grand leaps between trees in the same way the indri does. Like many lemurs, they communicate through scent, often leaving scent-marks on trees around their territory.

They are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gibbs (email & Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Hubbard’s Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur hubbardorum)

Sportive lemurs often have the appearance of being quite shocked by something they have just witnessed, with wide eyes reminiscent of lorises or bushbabies (their relatives). Hubbard’s sportive lemurs live in a single region in southwestern Madagascar, in dry deciduous forests. They were originally thought to be the same species as the red-tailed sportive lemur (Lepilemur ruficaudatus); it wasn’t until 2006 that they were described as their own species, and as such, information on their threats and population stability is limited.

They are not currently listed by the IUCN Red List due to insufficient data.

Photo Credit: NH53 (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Brown Mouse Lemur (Microcebus rufus)

Brown mouse lemurs live in rainforests throughout eastern Madagascar. (Their close relative, Berthe’s mouse lemur/Microcebus berthae, is the world’s smallest primate.) They live on a diet of fruits that are high in fat, and they often hibernate temporarily during the dry season. While they often move on all four legs, they are also known to travel using a skipping movement, using leaps of almost 10 ft (3 m), and/or using frog-like hopping motions. While individuals are solitary, their home ranges may overlap.

They are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.

Photo Credit: Iraiidh (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Sclater’s Lemur (Eulemur flavifrons)

Sclater’s lemurs are the only primates in the world, other than humans, that can have blue eyes! Unfortunately, these remarkable animals are nearly extinct, with much of their habitat converted to farmland and with as few as 1,000 individuals left in the wild. They live in sub-tropical forests on the northwestern tip of Madagascar, and feed mainly on fruit, nectar, and pollen. Because they eat fruit but don’t digest fruit seeds, they are key in spreading the seeds of over 50 different plant species; scientists theorize that some plants may have evolved specifically to be eaten and excreted by these lemurs. While male Sclater’s lemurs are all-black, females are reddish-brownóbut both sexes have those striking blue eyes.

They are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

Photo Credit: Bruce McAdam (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)

Aye-ayes are the world’s largest nocturnal primate, living in rainforests and deciduous forests in eastern Madagascar. Local superstitions name these weird-looking-but-beautiful creatures as symbols of death and harbingers of evil; unfortunately, as their habitats are destroyed, they often seek food in villages, which may lead to humans killing them on sight. They have an extraordinary method of finding food: they tap on trees, listen to the echo to sound out grubs, gnaw a hole in the bark with their forward-slanted teeth, and then use their very long, narrow middle finger to scoop out the tasty larva. (As far as we know, this makes them the only primate to use echolocation to find prey.) They will also happily eat nuts, fruits, nectar, seeds, and fungi.

They are classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List.

Photo Credit: Tom Junek (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Source: The Primata Factsheets / Wikipedia



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Magdalen B.
Magdalen B4 years ago

Fabulous! How long before some idiots start demanding them as pets?

Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago

Magnificent creatures! So sad their habitat is dissapearing because of humans as always :(

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

they are all so cool looking! I'd love to see them in their native land!

Tanja Z.
Tanja Zilker5 years ago

so lovely

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

They 're so lovely :) ty

Beth Wilkerson
Beth Wilkerson5 years ago

Madagascar is at the top of my dream travel list; I am fascinated by lemurs.

Ajla C.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago


Patricia Garcia Ces
Patricia Ces5 years ago


Janet G.
Janet G5 years ago

Awe :-)