Eulemur mongozmongoose lemur

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Geographic Range

Mongoose lemurs, Eulemur mongoz, are found in northwest Madagascar and on the Comoro Islands of Moheli and Anjouan.

Habitat

Eulemur mongoz may be found in two different habitats. On the island of Madagascar, they are found in drier forests with deciduous trees. However, on the smaller islands, they are found in more humid forests. ("Primate Center at Duke University", July 31, 1999)

Physical Description

Mongoose lemurs are the smallest species of the genus Eulemur, which includes five species. Head and body length averages 35 cm and the tail length averages 48 cm. These animals weigh between 2 and 3 kg.

Pelage in this species is sexually dimorphic. It is woolly and the tails are bushy and gray in both sexes. Males have a gray body with red fur on the side of the body and the face. Males have white beards when they are born that turn red as they grow older. Females are darker gray than males and they have white fur on the sides of the body and face.

Mongoose lemurs have binocular vision, as in other lemurs, and their noses have a rhinarium (unfused nasal projection) to aid in olfactory communication. ("Primate Center at Duke University", July 31, 1999; Flannery, August 25, 2000; Hill, 1953)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • Range mass
    2 to 3 kg
    4.41 to 6.61 lb
  • Average length
    35 cm
    13.78 in

Reproduction

In some areas, these animal appear to form stable monogamous pair bonds. It is possible that in other areas these animals are polygynous, as are other members of the genus. (Nowak, 1999)

Mongoose lemurs reach sexual maturity at about 2 years of age.

Mating is seasonal. Females experience estrus for about one month between April and June. They give birth to a single offspring per year, though twins are not rare. Young are usually born from August to October after a gestation period of about 128 days. Newborn lemurs weigh about 60 to 70 grams at birth and are weaned from their mother at about 135 days of age. ("Primate Center at Duke University", July 31, 1999; Nowak, 1999)

  • Breeding interval
    These lemurs breed once per year.
  • Breeding season
    Females experience estrus for about one month between April and June
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
    1.1
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    128 days
  • Average gestation period
    128 days
    AnAge
  • Average weaning age
    135 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    796 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Female mongoose lemurs care for their young and nurse them until they are about 135 days old. Maternal care includes grooming, playing, and socialization, as well as carrying of the young when they are small. The role of males in parental care has not been described.

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of these animals has not been reported. However, another member of the genus, Eulemur fulvus is known to have reached an age of 36 years in captivity. An individual which was a hybrid of E. fulvus and Eulemur macaco lived for 39 years in captivity. It is likely that E. mongoz is similarly long lived, although wild lifespan is likely to be shorter than that seen in captivity. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    36.2 years
    AnAge

Behavior

Mongoose lemurs have a very different behavioral pattern than that of most primates. Individual activity patterns vary between populations and depending on the season. During dry seasons mongoose lemurs tend to be nocturnal. They will switch to diurnal activity at the start of a cold, wet season.

Mongoose lemurs live in small groups of about 3 to 4 individuals; an adult male, adult female, and their offspring. Male and female offspring are forced to leave their group when they are mature, at around 2.5 to 3.5 years old. Females are generally dominant to males, giving the females predominant choice of food and mates.

Groups of E. mongoz have small home ranges and mark their territory with scent and vocalizations. Grooming is used to create and enhance social bonds between group members. ("Primate Center at Duke University", July 31, 1999; Fleagle, 1988)

Communication and Perception

As in all primates, communication is varied and complex. Visual signals, such as facial expressions and body postures, are often used in communication. In addition, vocalizations are used, especially in marking territories. Chemical communication (i.e. scent marks) are used in marking territories as well. Tactile communication occurs between members of a social group and may include grooming, agonsism, and play. ("Primate Center at Duke University", July 31, 1999; Flannery, August 25, 2000; Nowak, 1999)

Food Habits

Mongoose lemurs first begin to eat solid food when they are about 5 weeks of age (around the same time they take their first steps). They taste whatever the older members of the group are eating, which includes flowers, pollen, fruit, and leaves.

Mongoose lemurs have very small upper incisors and upper canines and their premolars become vertically smaller posteriorly. The molars are hypocone, but the trigonids and talonids become less distinct toward the posterior. Eulemur species have dental formulas of 0-2/2, 1/1, 3/3, 3/3=32-36. ("Primate Center at Duke University", July 31, 1999; Hill, 1953; Nowak, 1999; Vaughan, et al., 2000)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • fruit
  • pollen
  • flowers

Predation

Details regarding predation upon these animals are lacking. However, it is likely that fossas and raptors may be predators.

Ecosystem Roles

Because they are frugivorous, these animals may help in dispersing seeds. When they feed upon pollen, they may help some species to pollinate. To the extent that these lemurs are preyed upon by other animals, they may affect local food webs.

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Eulemur mongoz is hunted for food and for sale into the pet trade. All lemurs are captivating animals and may play some role in attracting tourists to Madagascar. (Nowak, 1999)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Mongoose lemurs have been hunted and trapped by humans because of their assumed role in raiding and destroying crops. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

There are only about 100 mongoose lemurs in captivity worldwide and their habitats are disappearing. Land that is inhabited by mongoose lemurs is being cleared to produce charcoal and farm land. It has been illegal to kill lemurs since 1974, but many local people are unaware of the law. In 1996, IUCN considered the species vulnerable, the CITES have E. mongoz on appendix I and the USDI lists all species of Eulemur as endangered. ("Primate Center at Duke University", July 31, 1999; Nowak, 1999)

Contributors

Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Jolaine Roycewicz (author), St. Lawrence University, Erika Barthelmess (editor), St. Lawrence University.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates

ecotourism

humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

frugivore

an animal that mainly eats fruit

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

July 31, 1999. "Primate Center at Duke University" (On-line). Accessed October 22, 2000 at http://www.duke.edu/web/primate/index.html.

Flannery, S. August 25, 2000. "Primate Info Net" (On-line). Accessed October 22, 2000 at http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/eulemur_mongoz.html.

Fleagle, J. 1988. Primate Adaption and Evolution. San Diego: Academic Press.

Hill, W. 1953. Primates Comparitive Anatomy and Taxonomy. London: Edinburgh University Press.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Vaughan, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. 2000. Mammalogy. Fort Worth: Saunders College Publishing.