Mongoose Lemur Fact File
Credit: GodeNehler, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Wild 20 years
Captive 30 years
Seeds, Flowers, Fruit
Mongoose lemurs are one of only two lemur species which have expanded their range from the island of Madagascar though both of these populations were introduced by humans.
These animals are considered sexually dichromatic. This means the males and females are different in their appearance.
They exhibit seasonal variations in their activity patterns. During the dry season they are active by night and in the wet they are active by day.
Despite their introduction to new areas this species is still listed as critically endangered by the IUCN due to habitat loss and hunting for food or to supply the illegal wildlife trade.
Read on to learn more about these magnificent mammals.
What does the mongoose lemur look like?
Mongoose lemurs show a level of sexual dimorphism. Males will be primarily pale grey across the body with patches of red on the flanks and face. Females by comparison are darker with the red patches replaced by white.
In some individuals a small bald patch is present on top of the head. This is a result of them using their head to scent mark their territory.
The muzzle in both is pale with a black nose. Their iris is orange with a round, black pupil.
At the end of the body is a tail which adds 45cm (18in) to their length.
An average mongoose lemur will measure 35cm (13.75in) long with a weight between 2 and 3kg (4.5-6.5lbs).
Males are typically larger than females and have a darker tip to their tail.
What does the mongoose lemur eat?
Mongoose lemurs are omnivores. Their diet is variable across the seasons. Summer will see them consuming more seeds and dry fruit, most have which have fallen from the trees. In winter they eat leaves, flowers and pollen.
They are important in dispersing the seeds they collect through the forest. During digestion they strip the hard outer coating off the seed which prepares them to germinate.
By eating flowers they also contribute to the pollination of plants in their habitat.
Credit: Public Domain
Where can you find the mongoose lemur?
Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa is the native home of the mongoose lemur.
They have also been introduced to Comoros on to the islands of Moheli, Anjouan and Grande Comoro. At this point it is thought that the population on these islands is larger than that on Madagascar.
Their range overlaps with that of several lemurs and at times they have been observed interacting with groups of common brown lemurs.
Mongoose lemurs are one of only two lemur species which have a range outside of Madagascar. Both of these populations came from releases by humans.
What kind of environment does the mongoose lemur live in?
They make their home in dry deciduous forest and scrub.
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How does the mongoose lemur produce its young?
Births occurs in mid-October. Females tend to produce young each year.
A single infant is most common and will be born after a 126-128 day gestation period.
Young are carried by their mother for the first few months of life. They are weaned off of milk between 6 and 7 months old.
In some parts of their range this species has produced hybrids with the red lemur.
Sexual maturity is reached between 2 and 3 years old.
What does the mongoose lemur do with its day?
These animals live in small family units of a pair and their offspring. On Comoros larger groupings are increasingly common.
They show a seasonal variation in their activity pattern. During the dry season they are nocturnal. In the rainy season they are likely to be active during the day.
Groups will reinforce their bond through grooming To assist with this 6 of their teeth stick out from the lower jaw and allow them to groom one another.
Credit: Lea Maimone, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=479750
Predators and Threats
What is impacting the survival of the mongoose lemur?
Natural predators of the mongoose lemur include birds of prey such as hawks.
Populations of the mongoose lemur are showing significant declines leading to their listing by the IUCN as critically endangered.
They are increasingly affected by habitat fragmentation with high levels of slash and burn agriculture in their habitat to allow for cattle pasture or charcoal production.
This species is also captured for sale both in to the illegal pet trade and food.
While they legally protected it appears to have little effect.
Introduced populations in the Comoros have previously provided a degree of protection but these are now also being targeted especially due to the opinion that they are a crop pest.
The mongoose lemur is one of only two lemur species with a range that extends outside of the island of Madagascar.
Credit: Michelle Tribe from Ottawa, Canada, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Razafindramanana, J., Eppley, T.M., Rakotondrabe, R., Roullet, D., Irwin, M. & King, T. 2020. Eulemur mongoz. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T8202A115561431. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T8202A115561431.en. Downloaded on 10 November 2021.
Lehigh Valley Zoo. 2021. Mongoose Lemur – Lehigh Valley Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.lvzoo.org/animals/lemur/> [Accessed 10 November 2021].
Peoria Zoo. 2021. Mongoose Lemur – Peoria Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.peoriazoo.org/animal-groups/mammals/mongoose-lemur/> [Accessed 11 November 2021].
Covert, T., 2021. Mongoose Lemur. [online] New England Primate Conservancy. Available at: <https://www.neprimateconservancy.org/mongoose-lemur.html> [Accessed 11 November 2021].
The Lemur Conservation Foundation. 2021. Mongoose Lemur – The Lemur Conservation Foundation. [online] Available at: <https://www.lemurreserve.org/lemurs/mongoose-lemur/> [Accessed 11 November 2021].
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