Red Ruffed Lemur Fact File


Red ruffed lemurs are covered with a coat of fluffy reddish-brown fur across the body. The forehead, stomach, insides of the limbs and tail are colored black. A white patch sits on the back of the neck.

This fur is thick to help keep them warm in dry conditions.

They have a pair of large yellow eyes with a black nose. Extending from either side of the muzzle are whiskers of fur.

On the back feet their second toe is elongated and helps them to brush their fluffy coats. They have flat nails to grip objects and groom other lemurs.

The six bottom, front teeth have developed in to a comb which can be used to groom others.

These primates are among the largest of the lemurs. Their body will measure up to 50cm (20in) long with an average weight between 3.6 and 4.5kg (8 and 10lbs). Females are larger than males in general.

.The tail adds a further 58cm (23in) to their length. It aids in balance as they move through the treetops.


The red ruffed lemur is a herbivore. Their diet includes a range of leaves, seeds, flowers and nectar though the main component is fruit. One of the most popular foods for this species appears to be figs.

These animals will move nectar between plants as they feed making them an important pollinator.

red ruffed lemur

Scientific Name

Varecia rubra

Conservation Status

Critically Endangered


3.6-4.5kg (8-10lbs)


50cm (20in)


Wild 15-20 years

Record 36 years



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Africa is the native home of the red ruffed lemur. Here they can be found off the coast on the island of Madagascar. Their range covers a small portion of the Masoala Peninsula near Maroantsetra in northeastern Madagascar.


The natural habitat of the red-ruffed lemur is deciduous tropical forests. Most of their time is spent in the upper canopy.

red ruffed lemur


Breeding for this species occurs from May to July. Males and females may have multiple partners each season.

Females give birth to up to 6 infants in a litter, though 3 is the average, after a gestation period of 90 to 102 days. While they produce large litters as many as 65% of these are though to not survive the first three months.

During the raising period the mother will move the young between nests in her mouth. These nests are constructed high in a tree from branches and foliage.

Young are weaned off milk by four months old.

These animals reach sexual maturity at 20 months old.

The red ruffed lemur and the black and white ruffed lemur can breed together to create a red, black and white offspring.


Lemurs communicate through scent. This can be rubbed on trees from glands on the wrist and bottom.

Red ruffed lemurs are social. They will form groups of 2-5 individuals in some areas while in other parts of the range they include 18 to 32 members. In these groups females are more dominant and always sit above males in the hierarchy. Groups may be larger in the wet season when food is in abundance.

The species is highly vocal and uses a range of calls to communicate. Some of these carry as far as half a mile away. They have also shown the ability to recognize the calls of the related black and white ruffed lemur.

These animals are active by night. Most of the activity is concentrated around dusk and dawn.

Red ruffed lemurs will sun themselves by sitting up with their arms outstretched facing toward the sun.

red ruffed lemur

Predators and Threats

Natural predators of the red ruffed lemur include snakes, birds of prey such as eagles and the fossa.

If a predator is spotted by one member of the group they will raise an alarm to help protect other group members.

White-front brown lemurs are a significant competitor of the red ruffed lemur for the same food sources.

The food trees which are relied on by red ruffed lemurs are also among the most popular for loggers making this a substantial threat to their survival. Other threats include hunting and habitat fragmentation.

Quick facts

The word lemur is derived from 'lemures' meaning ghost or spirit.

red ruffed lemur

Photo Credits

Under License

References 2021. Red Ruffed Lemur Facts and Information | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 March 2021].

Duke Lemur Center. 2021. Red Ruffed Lemur - Duke Lemur Center. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 March 2021].

Smithsonian's National Zoo. 2021. Red-ruffed lemur. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 March 2021].

"Varecia rubra" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 25, 2021 at

The Maryland Zoo. 2021. Red Ruffed Lemur | The Maryland Zoo. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 March 2021].

Red-ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) Fact Sheet. c2015-2020. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed March 25 2021].

Folly Farm. 2021. Red Ruffed Lemur – Fun Facts & Information For Kids. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 March 2021].

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black and white ruffed lemur
Ring-tailed Lemur


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