Crowned lemurs are the smallest species in the lemur family, and until recently were considered as a sub-species of the mongoose lemur. Of the lemur species, they are the ones that show the most difference between the genders, except for the blue-eyed lemur. Females are mostly gray with an orange head, while males are a dark reddish brown and have a black and orange head.
The Crowned lemur is a native animal of Madagascar. They live from Cap d'Ambre in the extreme north to the Fanambana River in the south. They extend west to Ambilobe, a town on the Sambirano River, and along the east coastline. Crowned lemurs live in dry, deciduous forest and rainforest of mid-altitude situated on rugged terrain which has been shaped by limestone.
Habits and lifestyle
These mostly diurnal primates are social animals, living in groups of 5 to 15 individuals, the average size of the group being 5 or 6. Groups usually contain a few adults of both genders. It is thought that groups get smaller the more humid the environment, such as Mt. d'Ambre in the northern tip of the island. These animals are active from sunup to sundown, but often they will take a break at noon that could be up to four hours. Groups travel in the dark. Foraging often occurs within subgroups of a larger group, and specific vocalizations may be used for contact between the different subgroups. Interactions between groups that are larger are rare. Females are dominant over males in the group, allowing them advantages in choice of food and mates. Grooming members of the group is important to develop and maintain social bonds.
Diet and nutrition
As frugivores Crowned lemurs mostly eat fruit and leaves, sometimes vertebrates and bird eggs, even flowers, pollen, and insects on occasion. In the dry season, they look for waterholes, which are often deep inside caves.
Crowned lemurs are polygynous, which means that one male gets exclusive mating rights with multiple females. Mating takes place from late May to June. Gestation is for about 125 days, and one infant or two are equally commonly born. Infants ride on the mothers' bellies during the first 3 weeks, moving to nurse and sometimes later moving onto the mother’s back. Mothers nurse their young until the age of 5 to 6 months. Crowned lemurs are sexually mature after two years.
The Crowned lemur is under threat by habitat loss because of forest fires, cultivation, logging, and development, which have served to dramatically reduce suitable habitat. Even though the Crowned lemur lives in four protected areas, these reserves are fragmented, restricting the lemur’s home ranges and potential for breeding. Research suggests that even within these reserves, logging, grazing and hunting takes place.
According to the Wikipedia resource, the total Crowned lemur population size is 1,000–10,000 individuals. Currently this species is classified as Endangered (EN) and its numbers are decreasing.
Being frugivores, Crowned lemurs may have an important role in seed dispersal; as nectivores, they may assist in plant pollination. As prey for other mammals and birds, this species may have an impact on local food webs.
Fun facts for kids
- Lemurs are very intelligent, being able to learn patterns, and they have object discrimination skills. They can learn tasks that are too complex for monkeys and apes, such as performing simple arithmetic and organizing sequences from memory. They can also learn how to use tools.
- Lemurs live only on the island of Madagascar. Studies show that they did not arrive there until after the island broke off from the continent of Africa. It is believed that they travelled over the sea on large pieces of vegetation.
- Lemurs use their sense of smell to communicate with other animals. The special scent glands they have on their bottoms and wrists mark their territories through scent trails on branches.
- A lemur's broad, soft fingers and toes all have flat nails, allowing it to grip objects as well as groom other individuals.
- The lemur's thick and bushy tail acts as a visual signal when the animal is threatened, or to give it balance when leaping through the trees.