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Red-ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Physical Characteristics

Attribute Males & Females
Head & Body Length 50-55 cm (1.6-1.8 ft)
Tail Length 60-65 cm (2.0-2.1 ft)
Total Length 100-120 cm (3.3-3.9 ft)
Body Weight 3.3-3.6 kg (7.3-7.9 lb)


Body measurements from Vasey 2003; taken from 3 representative individuals

General Appearance

Body shape (from Mittermeier et al. 2010 unless otherwise noted)

  • Large bodied
    • Largest extant member of the family Lemuridae
  • Tail long
    • Slightly longer than head and body
    • Lavishly furred (Vasey 2003)

Facial characteristics (from Hill 1953)

  • Face
    • Black
    • Ring of ruffed hair surrounds the face
      • Extends from the ears down the sides of the head and onto the throat
  • Muzzle
    • Elongate and gradually sloping
  • Nose
    • Black
  • Eyes
    • Forward-facing
  • Ears
    • Somewhat triangular in shape; rounded at the apex
    • Hidden in ruffs of hair

Adult pelage (from Mittermeier et al. 2010)

  • Overall appearance
    • Back and outer limbs (dorsal surface) deep, chestnut-red
      • More red-orange or honey-blonde in some
    • Belly and inner limbs (ventral surface) black
    • Tail, feet, face, muzzle and top of head black
    • Ear tuft colored as the back; reddish
    • Back of neck with a bright white patch
  • Variation in color
    • Small, lighter-colored patches on the heels, digits, and muzzle in some

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexes alike (from Vasey 2003)

  • Similar in size and coloration

Other Characteristics


  • “Toothcomb” (from Cuozzo and Yamashita 2006)
    • Tall, slender incisors separated with narrow gaps
      • Project forward and slightly upward
    • Aids in grooming

Red-ruffed Lemur Appearance

Red Ruffed lemur tail

The red-ruffed lemur has a long tail. ZOOM Erlebniswelt, Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Image credit: Matthias Appel at Flickr. Public domain.


Red-ruffed Lemur

The red-ruffed lemur has a distinctive bright white patch on the back of the neck. Artis Royal Zoo, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Image credit: © Kitty Terwolbeck from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Cuozzo and Yamashita (2006)
Hill (1953)
Mittermeier et al. (2010)
Vasey (2003)

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