Propithecus tattersalligolden-crowned sifaka

Geographic Range

Propithecus tattersalli lives in the extreme northeastern regions of Madagascar. This species inhabits limited forest patches between the Loky and Monambato Rivers.


Propithecus tattersalli lives in dry deciduous and semi-evergreen forest fragments. These sifakas like to sleep in tall, emergent trees.

Physical Description

Propithecus tattersalli has short, mostly white fur, prominent tuffed ears, and a golden-orange crown. The face is black with small whitish hairs. The lower four incisors form a structure called a tooth comb, which is used grooming. On average, these sifakas are the size of a small dog, with a body length of approximately 48 cm and a tail length of approximately 39 cm. They weigh an average of 3 kg. The leg-to-arm-length ratio is high, which is an adaptation to vertical clinging and leaping.

  • Average mass
    3 kg
    6.61 lb
  • Average mass
    3545 g
    124.93 oz
  • Average length
    48 cm
    18.90 in


Although the mating system of P. tattersali has not been described, another member of the genus, Propithecus verreauxi, is reported to mate polygynously. It is likely that this species is similar.

Propithecus tattersali mates seasonally, usually in late January through March. The females in any given group enter estrus only once during the year, and are in estrus for a relatively short time. The gestation period for this species is approximately 130 to 165 days, after which a single infant, weighing about 40 grams, is born. Infants are weaned at 5 to 6 months and reach sexual maturity at 2 to 3 years old.

  • Breeding interval
    It is likely that these animals breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    Propithecus tattersali mates seasonally, usually in late January thru March
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    130 to 165 days
  • Range weaning age
    5 to 6 weeks
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 to 3 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 3 years

Soon after it is born, the infant clings to the mother's belly, shifting only to nurse. After 3 weeks the infant begins to ride on the mother's back "jockey style" as well as taking its first independent steps. Young are nursed for 5 or 6 months. Age of independence is not reported in the literature reviewed here, however, such is likely to occur before these animals become reproductively mature at the age of 2 to 3 years.

Females provide their young with nutrition, grooming, transportation, and socialization. The role of males in parental care is not known.

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


Longevity in these animals has not been reported. However, in P. verreauxi, captive individuals may live longer than 23 years. It is likely that P. tatersalli is similar.

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    20 years


Golden-crowned sifakas are social animals, living in groups ranging in size from 2 to 13 individuals. These groups usually contain 2 adults of each sex and several offspring. The females are dominant in the groups and are given preferential access to food and mate choice.

Golden-crowned sifakas live in peaceful groups. Individuals keep in sight of each other and engage in activities such as playing, infant caretaking, and grooming. They are diurnal, but during the rainy season they are active before dawn and after dark.

Territoriality plays a big part in the life of golden-crowned sifakas. Groups have a home range of approximately 22 to 30 acres. Males use scent glands, located on the front of the throat, and urine to mark their territory. Females also mark territory with glands found around the anus. When two troops meet, the males may engage in growling, scent marking, and ritualistic leaping toward the enemy, but these confrontations are not directly physical.

Golden-crowned sifakas are very vocal, emitting a range of sounds. They bark at aerial predators, emit a resonant bark for long distance communication, and make the sound "sifaka" for intruders on the ground. Propithecus tattersalli have a distinct repertoire of 5 to 6 calls.

Home Range

Territoriality plays a big part in the life of golden-crowned sifakas. Groups have a home range of approximately 22 to 30 acres.

Communication and Perception

As in all primates, communication in P. tatersalli is varied and complex. In addition to vocalizations, these animals use scent marks and body postures in their communication. Tactile communication includes grooming, playing, and mating.

Food Habits

Golden-crowned sifakas are vegetarian. Their diet consists mainly of seeds, unripe fruit, young and mature leaves and flowers, and occasionally bark.

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers


Although predation on these animals has not been reported, likely predators include fossas and various raptors. It is probably that this species is preyed upon by avian predators, as it has a specific alarm call for such creatures.

Ecosystem Roles

Because they are frugivorous, it is likely that these primates help to disperse some seeds. To the extent that they are important as prey items, they may also influence local food webs.

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Golden-crowned sifakas have been hunted for bushmeat. In addition, the primate fauna of Madagascar draws ecotourists to the island, and these animals may contribute to this lure.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of P. tattersalli on humans.

Conservation Status

Propithecus tattersalli is probaly one of the most endangered lemurs on Madagascar, with numbers dwindling to less than 8,000 individuals. This species has one of the smallest ranges and documented populations size of any lemur. Their precious habitat to many pressures such as slash-and-burn agriculture, commercial logging, charcoal production, fires to stimulate growth of pastures, overgrazing by domestic livestock, and recently discovered gold which has led to mining in the heart of their small range.

Golden-crowned sifakas do not inhabit any of the protected areas of Madagascar.


Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Shelley Raynor (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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.
dominance hierarchies

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.

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.


specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

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


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.


Ganzhorn, H., P. Kappler. 1993. Lemur Social ystems and Their Ecological Basis. NY and London: Plentum Press.

Harcourt, C., J. Thornback. 1990. Lemurs of Madagascar. Gland, Switzerland:

Mittermeier, R. 1992. Lemurs of Madagascar: An Action Plan for Their Consevation. Washngton, DC:

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

Tattersall, I. 1982. The Primates of Madagascar. New York: Columbia University Press.