Wildlife Wednesday: Ring-Tailed Lemur

Learn about Madagascar’s most famous (and possibly cutest) animal.

Yup—we’re talking about those dancing, singing primates from Madagascar. While real-life ring-tailed lemurs aren’t as animated as their cartoon counterparts, they’re still pretty cute. This Wildlife Wednesday, learn why Madagascar’s most famous residents may be in danger of extinction.

Habitat: We can skip this part, right? Lemurs are well known for living only in the forests of Madagascar, and the ring-tailed type is no exception.


  • At 22 in (55 cm), these lemurs’ striped tails are longer than their bodies.
  • They might not break into song, but ring-tailed lemurs are known for being especially vocal primates.
  • Unlike most lemurs, the ring-tailed ones spend about half their time on the ground.
  • Obligatory cute fact: when troops of lemurs traverse the forest floor, they raise their tails like flags to ensure that everyone stays together.
  • How did they end up on the island of Madagascar? Research suggests that they floated there on rafts of vegetation eons in the past.
  • Odour is a key communication tool for these guys. Like some human men, male lemurs vie for dominance by seeing who can become the stinkiest.
  • Stink fights aside, lady lemurs are dominant over males; one alpha female generally leads each lemur group.

A lemur’s tale

Despite their fame, even ring-tailed lemurs aren’t immune to the threats that plague so many animals these days. They’re currently labelled as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

Lemurs’ risk of extinction is mostly due to burning, overgrazing, and wood harvesting for the production of charcoal. Illegal hunting is another threat, as lemurs’ fame has made them popular pets. To learn how we can help these furry and fuzzy primates, check out the Lemur Conservation Foundation.

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