Ring-tailed lemur

(Lemur catta)

The ring-tailed lemur is the symbol of its native African island of Madagascar. Its particularly striking long black and white curled tail makes it the best-known representative of all the lemurs. Lemurs have become well known and loved by young and old ever since the singing 'King Julien' in the animated film 'Madagascar'.



All forest types and bush savannahs in the south/southwest of Madagascar

Leaves, grasses, fruits, flowers (favourite food: Fruits of the tamarind tree and agave flowers)

No accurate information about their status available

45 cm long

2–2.5 kg

Brooding/gestation time:
4-5 months

Achievable age
Over 30 years in human care

What you should know about the ring-tailed lemur

The dry bush-dwelling ring-tailed lemurs of southern Madagascar are copious sun worshipers. They puff out their chest towards the sun with their arms and legs outstretched and remain in this position to warm up. In contrast to other species of lemurs, ring-tailed lemurs spend a large part of their lives on the ground, only climbing to the treetops to sleep.


Strength in numbers

Ring-tailed lemurs are very sociable animals. They live together in large groups of up to twenty-five animals, with several males, females and their young. Whether in search of food, while sleeping or while sunbathing: Ring-tailed lemurs are never alone. Even the young are raised by all the females together.


Girl power rules here!

The females always have the last word in the ring-tailed lemur kingdom. The females form the core of the troop since they remain in the groups in which they grew up, while the males have to leave the group after three to five years. Their dominant rank means they are allowed to eat first. The males only have their turn after that.


The scent decides

The curled tail of the ring-tailed lemur doesn't just look great, it is especially important for clarification of the ranking. In order to measure up with rivals for the affection of the lead female, they wag their tails with their 'stinky weapon' until one of them gives up. Those who are able to 'stink' the longest gain the affection of the female.


Is it true, that ...?

Even though ring-tailed lemurs are primates, some of their echoes and calls sound like your familiar house pet. If lemurs feel at ease, then they purr like cats. If they want to warn their counterparts of potential dangers, then their sounds echo like dog barks. And when they call out before sleeping to make sure that the troop is safe, you may even think that you're hearing an owl.

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