Skip to main content
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

Collared Lemur (Eulemur collaris) Fact Sheet: Reproduction & Development

Courtship

Courtship & Mating

  • Courtship
    • Scent marking (from AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013)
      • Males may urinate on females
      • Males and females increase scent marking activity during the breeding season
    • Female receptivity
      • Receptive for 1-2 days during each estrus cycle
  • Copulation
    • Occurs over two weeks at the end of May/beginning of June of the austral winter in Madagascar (G. Donati, personal communication)
    • Seldom observed in managed care (AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013; Vick and Conley 1976)
    • Mating typically brief, based on behavior of closely related species (from Vick and Conley 1976 unless otherwise noted)
      • May occur multiple times over the course of 1-2 days
      • Often occurs in early morning and evening, when minimal activity occurs around the animals (AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013)
      • Each partner self grooms following copulation
        • Brief mutual grooming may occur
    • Mating sequence, based on behavior of closely related species (from Vick and Conley 1976)
      • Male behavior
        • Male approaches female from behind
          • Female typically sits or stands on a horizontal surface
        • Male’s hands grasp hips of partner as he takes an upright (bipedal) position
          • His feet may grasp the female’s ankles
        • Copulation consists of 5-10 thrusts
          • Thrusts occur at a rate of 2-3 per second
      • Female behavior
        • Female assumes a low crouch
          • Her body leans slightly forward, the tail rests to one side of her body

Reproduction

  • No studies of reproduction in the wild (Schwitzer et al. 2013)
  • Estrus cycle, records of females in managed care (from AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013)
    • Cycle not easily apparent (to humans)
    • Duration and frequency
      • Cycle c. 30 every days
      • 2-3 cycles per reproductive season
        • Most females conceive during the first estrus of the breeding season

Gestation and Birth

Gestation

  • Estimate of c. 120-128 days (managed care) (AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013)

Birth

  • Behavior immediately prior to parturition, from managed care observations (from Vick and Conley 1976)
    • Mother isolates herself from group members
    • Much of her activity is self-focused
      • Spends much of her time resting
      • She also spends much time self grooming her genital region and chest
  • Behavior at parturition, from observations in managed care (from AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013)
    • Female may pace and groom genital region more than is usual
      • Contractions may be noticeable
    • Female will hunch over, with legs stretched straight out in front, immediately prior to birth
  • Litter size
    • 1-2; a single offspring is most common (from AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013)
      • Twins account for c. 22% of all births in managed care
  • Size at birth (from AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013)
    • Weight 60-90 g (2-3 oz)

Life Stages

  • Infant
    • Care (from AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013; Vick and Conley 1976 unless otherwise noted)
      • Similar to other brown lemurs (within the genus Eulemur) (Schwitzer et al. 2013)
        • Mother carries infant for 3-6 weeks after birth
          • Infant clings across her belly (like a belt) at first
          • An older infant rides on its mother’s back
        • Nursing
          • Infants nurse on demand
            • Suckle frequently to ingest small amounts of milk
    • Development (from Vick and Conley 1976 unless otherwise noted)
      • Climbs about on own after c. 6 weeks
        • Increasingly independent by 6-9 weeks of age
          • Infant moves about independently from mother; she no longer prevents independent exploration
        • Infant ceases to ride on mother by 2.5-3 months of age
          • Mother often rejects her infant’s attempts to ride around this time
      • Age at weaning, begins at 3-4 months (AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013)
        • Weaning proceeds gradually
        • Solid food consumption steadily replaces ingestion of milk
      • Click here to view A Baby Collared Lemur's First Six Months by Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx Zoo
  • Adults
    • Sexual maturity
      • c. 3 years, based on records from managed care (from AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013 unless otherwise noted)
        • Females mature at a slightly younger age than males (AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013; Becker and Ferrie 2014)
          • Median age of first reproduction, in managed care
            • Sire (male) 4.3 years
            • Dam (female) 3.0 years
      • Social interactions and housing (in managed care) can influence age at first reproduction in males (AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013)
    • Reproductive senescence
      • Capable of reproduction into old age (Becker and Ferrie 2014)
        • Males and females in managed care have produced offspring when 22-23 years of age (AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group 2013; Becker and Ferrie 2014)

Longevity

  • In managed care (from Becker and Ferrie 2014)
    • Maximum longevity
      • c. 32 years, a male and female in North American zoological institutions
    • Median life expectancy
      • c. 22 years; estimate for individuals who survive the first year of life
  • In the wild
    • No published records

Mortality

  • Adult mortality (from Donati et al. 2007b)
    • Most commonly due to predation and hunting by humans
  • Infant mortality (from Donati et al. 2007b; G. Donati, personal communication)
    • Potentially high
      • 50-100% per year in one relocated, very vulnerable group
        • This specific population had numerous re-adaptation problems
      • Assumed much lower in a more natural situation

Adult Lemurs with Infant

a Collared Lemur family

Collared Brown Lemurs (Eulemur collaris). Adult male and female with infant and one other adult at Nahampoana Reserve in Madagascar. Image credit: © Alex Dunkel at Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

AZA Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group (2013)
Becker and Ferrie (2014)
Donati et al. (2007b)
Schwitzer et al. (2013)
Vick and Conley (1976)

SDZG Library Links