Everyone’s first association for lemurs is a medium size animal that looks like a mix of fox and squirrel with a long black and white tail. To be exact, that is Ring tailed lemur, one of a 100 known species and subspecies of lemurs. I didn’t know that there is so many different types of lemur, and if you are interested in learning a few new facts about this animals, continue reading.
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Lemurs are endemic species to island of Madagascar, and they can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Ancestors of lemurs lived in Africa, and when Madagascar broke from this continent, ancestors of today’s lemurs migrated to this island. Scientist believe that they used broken pieces of wood as rafts to guide them across the ocean. African lemurs had many natural enemies, like monkeys and apes, and in time they got exterminated. Lemurs on Madagascar didn’t have any enemies, and they thrived and succeeded to evolve in so many different species. Most types of lemurs live on trees, but some larger species can be found on the ground as well.
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Lemurs live in groups, and the female lemurs are in charge. This behavior is very unique for the mammals, and only other animals who practice female dominance are hyenas. In some occasions when male lemurs are behaving badly, females cast them out of the group. So in lemurs society you can find groups of only male lemurs, and others in which female is matriarch. Mothers take great care of their babies, and young lemurs leave their mothers when they are two years old. Scientists think that this is the reason why lemurs live in matriarchal society. Females have greater need for food, and they are willing to fight harder and longer for it, so they become stronger than male lemurs.
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Ring Tailed Lemur
Ring tailed lemurs are easiest recognizable because of theirs very distinctive tail, and they are most common of lemur species in Zoos. Ring tail lemurs, are often found on the ground that is interesting knowing that lemurs in general live in trees. Male ring tails are equipped with sent glands on their wrists, which they use in stink fights. When two male rivals face each other, they rub their tails through glands and then wave with their tails in front of their opponent. The winner is the lemur with the ticker nose. Ring tails are classified as larger lemurs, and their diet is consisted of various fruits, leaves and flowers. Their tails can be 60 cm long, and they can live around 18 years.
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They are very intelligent
Studies show that lemurs adapt very well to life in captivity, researchers noticed that their life span increase to 30 years. Also, they are able to do simple problem solving. They are tested to solve various problems, and they have great memory capacity. After completing the tasks successfully lemurs show the sense of excitement, just like humans. It is noticed that lemurs can use tools and very tactically, when let to solve a problem, lemurs use creative ways to use the tool in their advantage.
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Berthe mouse lemur is the smallest lemur and also smallest primate in the world. He is only 9 cm tall, and weighs only 30 gr. They are not very social, and like to be left alone. But, this species of lemurs are very promiscuous. They live in trees and sleep in special leaf nests.
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The largest of lemur species is Indri lemur. He can grow up to 72 cm, and weight up to 10 kg. Their fur is used for camouflage and can be black and white or brown. They also eat fruits and leaves, and live in trees. They have surprisingly small tail, and they start to reproduce at the age of 9, that is the reason why there is lesser and lesser of this type of lemurs. Unlike ring tail lemurs, Indri can’t live long in captivity.
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Legends about lemurs
In Roman mythology lemurs represented the restless spirits of the dead. Romans thought that the proper burial will prevent this from happening. Seeing a lemur was often depicted as a bad omen. Also if you had a dream about lemur, meant that you need to ask for forgiveness from gods for something you did. Because lemurs are nocturnal creatures, villagers from Madagascar think that they represent evil spirits, they think that seeing lemur brings bad luck. Because of that, they hunt and kill this adorable animals. Superstition is the leading cause for killing lemurs, but also their uniqueness can bring a lot of money.
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Way they talk
Lemurs use two ways to communicate: vocalization and scent marks. Mothers use a soft purrs with their children, and that helps them form greater bond. Shrill scream is high pitched and it is alarm sound which can be hear long distance. Lemurs use it to alarm family members of danger or to mark their territory, and say other lemurs that they are not welcome. Lemurs also meow like cats, this sound is used for family gathering.
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Scent glands are located on wrists and genital region, and they produce odor that tells others that specific area is populated by lemurs. Sent from the glands helps lemurs to know where they are going and if outsider come into their area. Also, female lemurs release special odor when they are ready to mate.
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It is good thing that ring tailed lemurs can thrive away from their natural habitat, and people around the world can get familiar with this great species of animals. But for the rest of species that can’t live long away from Madagascar, we ca only hope that weird beliefs and superstition’s won’t lead to extinction of this amazing animals.
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