Propithecus perrieriPerrier's sifaka

Geographic Range

Perrier's sifakas are native to and only found on the island of Madagascar. They can be found in the northeastern and northern parts of Madagascar. (Banks, et al., 2007; Gron, 2008a; Groves and Helgen, 2007; Lehman and Mayor, 2004; Schwitzer, et al., 2006)


Perrier's sifakas are eastern Madagascar lemurs. They are found in dry and riparian forests that border rivers in northern Madagascar. The elevation range is 10 to 600 meters with most being found at about 500 meters. The forests that border the rivers are riparian. The canopy is continuous and the understory is open. The riparian forest gives way to dry forests. Dry forests have a low and open canopy with a variety of vines in the understory. Perrier's sifakas will travel over savannahs to go from one forest area to another. Annual rainfall is 125.0 cm with most of it falling between November and April. (Banks, et al., 2007; Gron, 2008a; Lehman and Mayor, 2004)

  • Range elevation
    10 to 600 m
    32.81 to 1968.50 ft
  • Average elevation
    500 m
    1640.42 ft

Physical Description

Perrier's sifakas have minimal sexual dimorphism, with females slightly larger (average of 4.44 kg) than males (average of 4.22 kg). The average body length is 48.9 cm. They have longer legs and tails than their torso and arms. They have coats of dense, silky, black fur except on their faces and ears which have no fur. Their eyes are small and face forward. (Gron, 2008a; Groves and Helgen, 2007; Pochron, et al., 2004)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    3.7 to 6.0 kg
    8.15 to 13.22 lb
  • Average mass
    4.3 kg
    9.47 lb
  • Average length
    48.9 cm
    19.25 in


Perrier's sifaka mating habits have not been studied. In their close relative, Propithecus diadema, several different mating systems occur. Depending on group size, mating systems can be monogamous, polyandrous, polgynous, or polygnandrous. (Gron, 2008b; Pochron, et al., 2004)

Reproductive behavior of Propithecus perrieri has not been well-studied. Perrier's sifakas were once considered a subspecies of Propithecus diadema, diademed sifakas, which has been studied more thoroughly. In diademed sifakas, multiple mating strategies are present and they can change from season to season depending on group size and structure. Females are in estrus for a short period of time, about 10 hours. Both males and females show genital swelling at times of fertility. Females become sexually mature at about 4 years old and males at 5. Mating occurs in the summer and the birth of one offspring per female occurs 5 to 6 months later, typically in the austral winter month of June. Infanticide by both males and females has been observed in some groups of diademed sifakas. This can be attributed to the arrival of new males in the group and females having a short estrus time and long gestation period. (Gron, 2008b; Pochron, et al., 2004)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding interval is not known in Perrier's sifakas, but diademed sifakas breed about every year and a half.
  • Breeding season
    In diademed sifakas, matings occur in the summer, December and January.
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    5 to 6 months
  • Average gestation period
    6 months
  • Average weaning age
    5 months
  • Average time to independence
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    4 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    5 years

There are no published reports of parental investment in Proptihecus perrieri. In the close relative, Propithecus diadema, mothers are the primary caregivers of their offspring. Very little alloparenting takes places in diademed sifaka groups. During the first weeks after birth the baby clings to the belly of its mother. At 3 to 4 weeks, offspring show more independence. There is contact with others in the group, play is often limited to other juveniles, but grooming is done by all. Around this time the baby will ride on the mother's back instead of the belly. Though the offspring are weaned around 5 months they stay under the mothers watch until about 2 years of age. (Gron, 2008b)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • post-independence association with parents
  • extended period of juvenile learning


There are no known Propithecus perrieri in captivity. The longest living Propithecus species in captivity was 36 years old. The closely related, diademed sifakas have the greatest risk of death before the age of 5. After the age of 5 an individual can be expected to live to about 15. (Pochron, et al., 2004)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    15 years


Perrier's sifakas are diurnal and occur in small groups of 2 to 6. Group territories do not overlap and there is little inter-group aggression. Perrier's sifakas primarily live in trees, using a vertical clinging mode of locomotion. They travel on hind legs over flat land to get to the river and other parts of the forest. (Gron, 2008a; Lehman and Mayor, 2004; Schwitzer, et al., 2006)

  • Range territory size
    1,000 to 30,000 m^2

Home Range

The home range of Propithecus perrieri groups is on average 1.04 ha. This area includes both dry and riparian forest. Depending on the group, the amount of dry forest to riparian forest varies. (Lehman and Mayor, 2004; Schwitzer, et al., 2006)

Communication and Perception

Perrier's sifakas use vocalizations as a form of communication, including warning calls. Gron (2008) describes the sounds as sneeze like. Alloparenting and grooming are common forms of bonding. They use visual cues, such as genital swelling, to communicate sexual readiness. They are also likely to use chemical cues, as do other mammals. (Gron, 2008a; Gron, 2008b)

Food Habits

Perrier's sifakas are primarily folivorous, but they are also include fruit in their diet. They consume a wide variety of plants, leaves, seeds, and flowers. An average of 50% of their diet consists of leaves. These leaves come from a range of plants including Somotrorama species, Pittosporum orchrosiifolium, Sideroxylon species, Diospyros species, Olax species, and Dalbergia species. Their diet consists of 27% flowers of the plants Magifera indica, Sideroxylon, Vonga-vonga, Dalbergia, and Famoha. Fruit makes up about 17% of their diet and comes from the plants Tamarindus indica and Ficus pachyclada. Buds, petioles, and seeds finish off the remainder of their diets. This small portion of their food can come from the plants Scerocaryan and Landolphia. Rarely, but sometimes, they eat dirt. (Banks, et al., 2007; Gron, 2008a; Lehman and Mayor, 2004)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers


The principal natural predators of Perrier's sifakas are fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox), which can travel on land and from tree to tree. Other possible predators include eagles and hawks. Raptors are mainly a danger to young. Humans also prey on sifakas. These sifakas use vocalizations to warn of possible danger. (Banks, et al., 2007; Gron, 2008a; Schwitzer, et al., 2006)

Ecosystem Roles

Perrier's sifakas may influence vegetation communities through their folivory and may disperse seeds when they eat fruits.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Perrier's sifakas are important members of native ecosystems in Madagascar.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Perrier's sifakas on humans.

Conservation Status

Perrier's sifakas are considered critically endangered by the IUCN. All Propithecus species are considered endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Human destruction of the habitats of Propithecus perrieri represents their biggest threat to survival. Humans use slash-and-burn agriculture, logging, mine for gemstones, and hunt these sifakas. Another natural cause of sifaka death and destruction of habitat are wildfires. (Banks, et al., 2007; Gron, 2008a; Schwitzer, et al., 2006)


Rose Gaudreau (author), University of Oregon, Stephen Frost (editor, instructor), University of Oregon, Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.



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

World Map


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.

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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

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.


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


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.

island endemic

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 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.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

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.


Banks, M., E. Ellis, Antonio, P. Wright. 2007. Global population size of a critically endangered lemur, Perrier's sifaka. Animal Conservation, 10: 254-262.

Gron, K. 2008. "Primate Factsheets: Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema)" (On-line). Accessed January 09, 2009 at

Gron, K. 2008. "Primate Info Net" (On-line). Primate Factsheets. Accessed February 19, 2009 at

Groves, C., K. Helgen. 2007. Craniodental Characters in the Taxonomy of Propithecus. Int J Primatol, 28: 1363-1383.

Lehman, S., M. Mayor. 2004. Dietary Patterns in Perrier's Sifakas (Propithecus diadema perrieri): A Preliminary Study. American Journal of Primatology, 62: 115-122.

Pochron, S., W. Tucker, P. Wright. 2004. Demography, Life History, and Social Structure in Propithecus diadema edwardsi From 1986-2000 in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. American Journal of Pyhsical Anthropology, 125: 61-72.

Schwitzer, C., O. Arnoult, B. Rakotosamimanana. 2006. An International conservation and research programme for Perrier's sifaka (Propithecus perrieri Lavauden, 1931) in northern Madagascar. Lemur News, 11: 12-14.