Blue-Eyed Black Lemur

Blue-Eyed Black Lemur

Sclater's lemur

Eulemur flavifrons
Population size
Life Span
20-25 years
Top speed
km/h mph 
kg lbs 
cm inch 

The blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons ), also known as the Sclater's lemur, is a species of true lemur. It can attain a body length of 39–45 cm, a tail length of 51–65 cm- a total length of 90–100 cm, and a weight of 1.8-1.9 kg. Being a primate, it has strong hands with palms like a human, which have a rubbery texture to give it a firm grip on branches. Its tail is longer than its body and is non-prehensile.

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Like many of the species in the genus Eulemur, the blue-eyed black lemur is sexually dichromatic. Males are solid black in color, with the hairs sometimes tinged brown at the roots. Females are reddish-brown in color with their underside and outline of their face a lighter tan. They have a dark brown or gray muzzle and the back of their hands and feet are a similar dark color. Both sexes have blue eyes, hence the common name, and are one of the only primates other than humans to consistently have blue eyes. The eyes can range in color from a shocking electric blue, a light sky-blue, or a softer gray-blue.

Although the blue-eyed black lemur and the black lemur look similar, they can be differentiated by the blue eyes and lack of prominent ear tufts of this species, while the black lemur has orange-red eyes and long, spiky cheek hairs. In the Manongarivo Special reserve, where the range of the two species overlap, there is a report of hybridization between the two species, but the resulting offspring always have orange eyes. Until 2008, the blue-eyed black lemur was considered a subspecies, E. macaco flavifrons, of the black lemur.

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One of the Madagascan lemur species most recently discovered could also be amongst the first to disappear. The Blue-eyed black lemur, identified as a species only in 2008, could be extinct within 11 years because of rapid deforestation of its only habitat. These striking animals already have a place on the list of the 25 most endangered primates in the world. Their population has declined more than 80 percent subsequent to their discovery in 1983. They were first considered a subspecies of the Black lemur but a few years ago they were finally reclassified as being a distinct species. The Blue-eyed black lemurs have striking sexual dimorphism in color. Males are black, and females have a coat that is reddish-tan in color over the entire body. They all have turquoise blue eyes.



Biogeographical realms

The Blue-eyed black lemur lives in Madagascar’s northwestern tip. It occurs in primary and secondary sub-tropical dry and moist forests, from the north at the Andranomalaza River, to the south at the Maevarano River. It can readily be seen in forests south of Maromandia near Antananarivo and Antsiranana. It may also be found in the remaining patches of forest in the Sahamalaza Peninsula, e.g. the Ankarafa Forest.

Blue-Eyed Black Lemur habitat map


Climate zones

Blue-Eyed Black Lemur habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

Little is known about the behavior of Blue-eyed black lemurs outside of captivity because there has not been extensive study of them in the wild. The following information was mostly recorded for black lemurs, and it is assumed to also be correct for this species. They live within social groups usually of 7 to 10 individuals, although there are groups from 2 to 15. As with most lemur species, females are dominant, and in each social group there are typically more males than females. The black lemur is active during both day and night, with most activity occurring early morning and late afternoon, an activity pattern called cathemeral, which means ‘all hours’. Blue-eyed black lemurs use scent as their main method of communication, as do all lemurs, usually by rubbing their anogenital region on a suitable surface.

Group name

Diet and Nutrition

Blue-eyed black lemurs are herbivores, they mainly eat fruit, nectar, and pollen. In the dry season they may eat leaves, berries, and seeds, with insects being a rare addition.

Mating Habits

April-June in Madagascar, November-December in northern hemisphere
120-129 days
1-2 infants
5-6 months

The Blue-eyed black lemur is thought to be polygynous, which means that one male mates with multiple females. In Madagascar, mating is from April to June. In the northern hemisphere most breeding takes place in November and December, and births occur in March and April. The gestation period lasts for about 120-129 days. Usually a single offspring is born, but sometimes there are twins do occur. A baby clings to its mother’s belly for its first 3 weeks, changing its position only to nurse. From three to four weeks old, a young lemur begins to make short forays of about a foot away from its mother, scurrying back to her belly when startled. It will begin to try solid food at the age of 4-6 weeks, any of the food that its mother or other group members in a nearby group are eating. Nursing continues, but becomes steadily less important in the infant’s diet, and weaning occurs at 5 – 6 months old. Young lemurs are sexually maturity at around 2-3 years old.


Population threats

The main threat to the Blue-eyed black lemur comes from deforestation, especially slash and burn agriculture throughout its entire range. It is also hunted as a food source, for the pet trade and because it raids crops.

Population number

According to the Wikipedia resource, the total Blue-eyed black lemur population size is around 1,000 individuals. Today this species’ numbers are decreasing and it is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List.

Ecological niche

The Blue-eyed black lemur helps with the propagation of many rainforest plants by spreading the seeds of over 50 different species through depositing their waste. It is possible that some plants have evolved specifically for dispersal by this species. They also pollinate many plants during the process of eating nectar and pollen from these plants.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Males and females of this species look very different. The males are totally black, while females are brownish gray and have a gray face framed with white tuffs of spiky hair.
  • Males have two techniques of scent marking which the females do not have. One is marking by rubbing the palm and wrist energetically backwards and forwards for a few seconds or minutes on a branch or some other surface. The other technique is head rubbing, done by lowering the head and rubbing the surface once or twice with it.
  • Blue-eyed black lemurs greet each other by means of reciprocal fur grooming.
  • Often Blue-eyed black lemurs will feed by hanging upside down by their feet.
  • Blue-eyed lemurs are one of just two non-human primates with truly blue eyes.


1. Blue-Eyed Black Lemur Wikipedia article -
2. Blue-Eyed Black Lemur on The IUCN Red List site -

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