What they look like
The small species of their genus, mongoose lemurs weigh 1.1-1.6 kilograms (about 3 pounds). They are sexually dimorphic, meaning that fur color varies by gender. Males are gray-brown, darker at the tip of the tail, with a dark pygal (rump) patch and a creamy ventral (stomach) coat. Reddish-brown cheeks and beard frame their gray muzzle and face. Females, by contrast, have white or creamy gray cheeks and beard and tend to be a lighter gray overall.
Where they live
In Madagascar, mongoose lemurs inhabit fragmented dry deciduous forests and secondary forests in the northwest. One of only two species found in the wild outside Madagascar, mongoose lemurs also live on the islands of Mohéli and Anjouan in the Comoros—likely introduced there by humans.
What they eat
Mongoose lemurs forage for fruit, flowers, nectar (a favorite), and occasional beetles and grubs. Like other lemur species, they serve as important pollinators and seed dispersers.
How they behave
Mongoose lemur activity varies with the season and available light. As cathemeral animals, they travel, feed, and socialize both night and day, becoming more diurnal in the warm, wet season and nocturnal in the dry. Foraging at night in the hot, dry, less leafy months may help them conserve energy and avoid predators.
Mongoose lemurs live in tight family groups, a monogamous couple with 1-3 offspring. When families encounter each other, much agitation, vocalization, and scent-marking ensues.
How they reproduce
In Madagascar, mongoose lemurs reach sexual maturity at 2.5-3.5 years, at which point they leave their birth family. As the dominant gender, females usually choose with whom to mate. Breeding occurs in May and June and births in October and November. Females usually deliver a single offspring each year.
What threats they face
Natural predators include hawks, boa constrictors, and fossae- a large, carnivorous mammal, related to the mongoose with qualities of a cat. Human activity is decimating the mongoose lemur population as slash-and-burn agriculture, clearing land for cattle, and charcoal production destroy forests. Hunting—for food and for the luxury bush-meat market—is also having a devastating effect.
Mongoose lemurs at the Myakka City Reserve:
At LCF mongoose lemurs enjoy the live and laurel oak forests and the secondary canopy of wax myrtle and small evergreen gallberry. They eat a mixture of fruit, vegetables, and monkey biscuits. Keepers also offer flowers and leaves as enrichment.
In Florida, mongoose lemurs breed between November and February, giving birth March through June after a 125 day gestation period.
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