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Red-ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) Fact Sheet, 2015  

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Red-ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) Fact Sheet, 2015

Image credit: ©San Diego Zoo Global. All Rights Reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Suborder: Strepsirrhini

Family: Lemuridae


Species: Varecia rubra (Saint-Hilaire, 1812) - Red-ruffed lemur

Measurements taken from 3 adults:

Body Weight
3.3-3.6 kg (7.3-7.9 lb)

Head & Body Length
50-55 cm (1.6-1.8 ft)

Tail Length
60-65 cm (2.0-2.1 ft)

Deep, chestnut-red back and outer limbs (dorsal surface). Black face, muzzle, top of head, feet, belly, inner limbs and tail.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Limited to Masoala Peninsula, Northeastern Madagascar

Moist, lowland regions of primary forests

IUCN Status
Critically Endangered A4cd version 3.1

CITES Appendix
Appendix I

Population in Wild
No published estimates; threatened by habitat degradation, hunting and catastrophic environmental events

Quadrupedal; climb and leap through trees

Activity Cycle

Social Groups
Dispersed networks of core groups with a multi-male/multi-female, multi-layered fission-fusion social structure

Highly frugivorous. Also eats flowers and leaves.

Fossa and birds of prey

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity
Females c. 1 year, males c. 2 years; in captivity

c. 99-106 days, in captivity

Litter Size
Commonly 2-3

Interbirth Interval
c. 2 year

Birth Weight
c. 98 g (0.2 lb)

Age at Weaning
c. 3-4 months

Typical lifespan in the wild not known. In captivity, life expectancy is c. 21 years for males, 18 for females. Maximum longevity of c. 36 years reached by a female.

Feature Facts

The largest extant member of the family Lemuridae, the red-ruffed lemur spends over 50% of its time resting.  This includes sunning, basking in the sun with arms outstretched.

Litter size is commonly 2-3 and parenting is communal.  Females stash infants together in a tree to forage, while remaining males and females coordinate vigilant activity to guard infants.  Mothers also communally nurse each other’s infants.

The red-ruffed lemur has undergone a suspected >80% population reduction over c. 24 years, equal to 3 generations.



About This Fact Sheet

© 2015 San Diego Zoo Global. Updated October 2015. 

How to cite: Red-ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) Fact Sheet, 2015. c2015. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to



We wish to thank Mylisa Whipple, M.S. for providing expert content review of this fact sheet. Ms. Whipple has been a Primate Keeper at the Saint Louis Zoo for almost 11 years.  She is currently the North American Regional Studbook Keeper and International Studbook Keeper for both Red Ruffed Lemurs and Black and White Ruffed Lemurs.

She holds a M.S. in Zoology with an emphasis in Animal Behavior from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, in addition to a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Zoology from Western Illinois University.  

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