Mongoose lemurs,, are found in northwest Madagascar and on the Comoro Islands of Moheli and Anjouan.
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)
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)
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.
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 is similarly long lived, although wild lifespan is likely to be shorter than that seen in captivity. (Nowak, 1999)
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.
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)
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)
Details regarding predation upon these animals are lacking. However, it is likely that fossas and raptors may be predators.
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.
Mongoose lemurs have been hunted and trapped by humans because of their assumed role in raiding and destroying crops. (Nowak, 1999)
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 Eulemur as endangered. ("Primate Center at Duke University", July 31, 1999; Nowak, 1999)on appendix I and the USDI lists all species of
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Jolaine Roycewicz (author), St. Lawrence University, Erika Barthelmess (editor), St. Lawrence University.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
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.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
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.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates
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.
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.
union of egg and spermatozoan
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
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).
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
having more than one female as a mate at one time
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
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
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
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.