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Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) Fact Sheet: Summary

Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) Fact Sheet

Ring-tailed Lemur

Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta)

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


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer (Year): Linnaeus (1758)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Suborder: Prosimiae

Family: Lemuridae

Genus: Lemur

Species: Lemur catta

Body Weight: 2.2 kg (4.9 lb)

Body Length: 385-455 mm (15-18 in)

Tail Length: 560-624 mm (22-25 in)

Pelage: Body gray and white; black and white
ringed tail; sexes similar, minor sexual dimorphism.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: southern Madagascar

Habitat: brush and deciduous forest

IUCN Status: Endangered (2018 assessment)

CITES Status: Appendix I

U.S. Fish and Wildlife: Endangered

Populations in the wild: No recent global estimates.

Locomotion: Quadrupedal and bipedal

Activity Cycle: Diurnal

Social Groups: 3-27; consists of females, offspring, and males.

Communication: Diverse vocal repertoire and scent-marking.

Diet: In the wild, 30+ plants eaten; primarily eat fruit and leaves. Kily tree parts are a staple. In managed care, commercial biscuits, fruits, vegetables, greens, and browse are offered.

Predators: Humans, birds of prey, snakes, cats, dogs, fossa.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Females c. 24 months

Gestation: 134-144 days

Litter Size: 1-3; triplets are rare

Neonate Weight: 50-80 g (1.8-2.8 oz)

Age at Weaning: 4-6 months

Typical Life Expectancy:
Managed care: median life expectancy of about 17 years

Feature Facts

  • Possesses some unusual primate characteristics: well-developed sense of smell, scent-marking behavior, and numerous scent glands.
  • Eyes encircled by black, triangular-shaped rings
  • Long tail for balance while leaping through trees
  • Spends more time on the ground, compared to other lemurs
  • Group ("troop") of up to 27 individuals. Form multi-male, multi-female groups.
  • During courtship, males compete by engaging in "stink fights" involving scent glands located on the wrists and shoulders
  • Adapted to a range of climates in Madagascar (cold to very hot/dry)
  • Particularly fond of eating the fruit pods of the kily tree, Tamarindus indica
  • Among the best studied species of lemurs
  • Commonly exhibited in zoos
  • First exhibited at San Diego Zoo in 1938


About This Fact Sheet

© 2009-2018 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Partial update in 2015. Population estimate updated 2018.

How to cite: Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) Fact Sheet. c2009-2018. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. ringtailedlemur. 
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2014 Sep 14)

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

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