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Ring-Tailed Lemur

Lemur catta

Ring Tailed Lemurs at Henry Vilas Zoo

About Ring-Tailed Lemur

The ring-tailed lemurs get their name from the many black and white bands on their tails. As part of the lemur family, they use their sense of smell and scent glands (on their wrists and chests) to mark food routes. This family group with amazing communication and a home in the southern part of Madagascar are sure to brighten your day!


Ring-tailed lemurs are found in the dry forest and bush habitats of the southern end of the island of Madagascar. They are happy near gallery forests and river banks but can be found in dry scrub, humid forests, and deciduous forests.


They are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will mainly eat plants, leaves, and flowers with sap, bark, and insects as nice treats! Their most important food source comes from the Tamarind tree.

Family Life

Ring-tailed lemurs are social and will live in groups consisting of three to 25 members. After males compete with each other to find their perfect mate, females take on all of the care for any offspring and are solely responsible for grooming, feeding, and teaching their young. Females spend their whole lives in their birth groups while the males disperse. The groups are female-dominated, an unusual characteristic among primates. Females typically give birth to one offspring once a year, though if food is plentiful, they may have twins.

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the Ring-Tailed Lemur is classified as not evaluated.


  • One major threat to the ring-tailed lemur population is habitat loss due to agriculture and livestock grazing.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs are also hunted for food and sold in the pet trade.

Facts about Ring-Tailed Lemur

  • Class:
    Mammalia (mammals)
  • Order:
    Primates (primates)
  • Family:
    Lemuridae (true lemurs)
  • Genus:
    Lemur (lemurs)
  • Species:
    Lemur catta (ring-tailed lemur)
  • Life Span:
    27 years (wild) / 30 years (zoo)
  • Size:
    15 – 18 inches (39 – 46 cm)
  • Weight:
    5 – 7.5 pounds (2.3 – 3.4 kg)
  • Tail Length:
    22 -25 inches (0.5 – 0.6 m)

Fun Facts

  • What’s that smell? Lemur males sometimes rub their tails with smells from their scent glands, then wave their tails at their opponents.
  • Ring-tailed lemurs love to sunbathe in “yoga positions” just like us! At night, a lemur sleeps with its nose tucked between its hind legs and tail curled up over its back.
  • These cute creatures have exactly 13 black and white bands on their tails.
  • When troops of ring-tailed lemurs travel around their home, they keep their tails raised in the air, just like little flags, to show others where they are!

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