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Red-ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) Fact Sheet: Summary

Red-ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) Fact Sheet

Red-ruffed Lemur

Red-ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical 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 & Status Behavior & Ecology

Limited to Masoala Peninsula, Northeastern Madagascar

Moist, lowland regions of primary forests

IUCN Status
Critically Endangered (2018 assessment)

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 & Development Species Highlights

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

c. 99-106 days, in managed care

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 Life Expectancy
Wild populations: not reported
Managed care: median life expectancy of about 20 years

Feature Facts

  • Largest extant member of the family Lemuridae
  • Spends over 50% of its time resting
  • Sun basks with arms outstretched
  • Litter size is commonly 2-3 young
  • 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

© 2015-2020 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Updated October 2015. IUCN Status updated Oct 2020.

How to cite: Red-ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) Fact Sheet. c2015-2020. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. redruffedlemur.
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance 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 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 Master's of Science in Zoology with an emphasis in Animal Behavior from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, in addition to a Bachelor's of Science in Biology with an emphasis in Zoology from Western Illinois University.

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