Quick Lemur Info:

  • Lemurs are endangered prosimians (a suborder of primates) found only on the island of Madagascar and the nearby Comoros Islands.
  • There are five families of lemurs:
    • Lemuridae - true lemurs
    • Megaladapidae - sportive lemurs
    • Cheirogaleidae - dwarf & mouse lemurs
    • Indriidae - indri, sifaka, & avahi
    • Daubentoniidae - aye-aye
  • There are 63 different species and subspecies of lemurs.
  • Lemurs can have long limbs, flexible toes & fingers, long noses, large eyes, and long tails.
  • Lemurs communicate using scent, noises, and tails.
  • Lemurs have a primarily vegetarian diet. Some species are solely herbivores.
  • The leading lemur authority is the Duke University Primate Center (DUPC).
  • Lemurs are cute, cuddly, and will inherit the Earth after humans successfully eradicate themselves.

What Lemurs Are:

Lemurs are furry prosimians that can range in size from 20 cm (8″) in length to about 75 cm (2.5′) tall. They have whiskers, snouts, opposable thumbs and dexterous toes, and wet noses. Nearly all species have long, bushy tails. Lemurs and other prosimians are very valuable to researchers interested the in the evolution of species.

Habitats and Habits:

Lemurs are native only to Madagascar. Nearly all lemurs are arboreal; only the meditative ringtail spends the majority of its time on the ground. Lemurs live in diverse habitats on Madagascar, ranging from tropical forests to deserts. Arboreal lemurs are extremely graceful in trees using their flexible fingers, toes, and tails to move through the canopy.

Lemurs mostly eat fruits, flowers, and leaves. Some species are strictly vegetarians. Their motivation for maintaining this lifestyle is most likely apolitical. The omnivorous species will eat insects, grubs, worms, and other smaller animals. Lemurs distribute seeds from the fruits they eat, playing a vital role in the survival of Madagascar's disappearing forests.

Larger lemurs tend to be diurnal, whereas most small lemurs are nocturnal. Diurnal lemurs are mostly social animals; nocturnal lemurs are more likely to be solitary. Due to the conditions of certain species' sociability, lemurs may be a new taxon of animal that could become (in a few millennia) domesticated. These species, like dogs, accept humans in their social structure. Humans may very well be viewed as arboreally-challenged lemurs.


Obviously different species of lemurs communicate in different ways. They are known to use auditory, olfactory, or visual signals to communicate. Some species have complex calls for distant communication, distress, warning, etc. It is suspected that certain lemurs have the ability to use echolocation. Some 'mark' their territory with varying methods. This can range from urinating on the target to rubbing certain hormonal body parts along the ground. Many species make use of facial expressions or tail movement to convey messages to one another.

Endangerment and Extinction:

While strictly enforced laws prohibiting the hunting or capturing of lemurs (except for scientific research) exist, hunting is only a small part of the problem. As is the cause of endangerment in most cases, habitat loss is the lemur's leading problem. The people of Madagascar live in a dire state of poverty. Land is harmed or completely deforested for their very survival. The lemur's continued safety cannot be assured until the poverty of the human population has been properly addressed.

According to the DUPC there are already "8 genera and at least 15 species extinct, 10 taxa critically endangered, 7 endangered and 19 vulnerable."

For further information on lemurs or specific species, visit the DUPC website:
The new design is unfortunately done in Flash, harder to navigate, and less informative.

If all of the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit.
- Chief Seattle

Le"mur (?), n. [L., a ghost, specter. So called on account of its habit of going abroad by night.] Zool.

One of a family (Lemuridae) of nocturnal mammals allied to the monkeys, but of small size, and having a sharp and foxlike muzzle, and large eyes. They feed upon birds, insects, and fruit, and are mostly natives of Madagascar and the neighboring islands, one genus (Galago) occurring in Africa. The slow lemur or kukang of the East Indies is Nycticebus tardigradus. See Galago, Indris, and Colugo.


© Webster 1913.

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