Behavior

Although they typically forage alone at night, all species in the family Cheirogaleidae live in social networks involving

A greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major) feeding on ravenala. (Photo by Harald Schütz. Reproduced by permission.)

overlapping ranges, occasional contacts during the night, and nest sharing during the day. However, the degree of tolerance between same-sex adults varies, such that some species (e.g., mouse lemurs) live in dispersed multi-male/multi-female groups, while others (e.g., dwarf lemurs) live in dispersed monogamous groups.

Because all species are typically solitary while foraging, social communication during the night is mainly based on vocalizations and scent marking. Due to their small body sizes,

The pygmy mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae) is the smallest primate in the world. (Photo by Harald Schütz. Reproduced by permission.)
A Coquerel's mouse lemur (Mirza coquereli) on a branch. (Photo by Rod Williams. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

most vocalizations are relatively high-pitched and the small-

contact, alarm, threat, and range defense. According to species, scent marking can involve deposition of urine, feces, or secretions of special skin glands.

All species show some degree of home-range defense between adults of each sex, but only those that are clearly monogamous (Cheirogaleus) or that show a tendency to monogamy (Mirza and Phaner) defend an exclusive territory.

All dwarf and mouse lemurs are exclusively nocturnal. Smaller species show incomplete control of body temperature, which declines during daytime sleep, and varying degrees of torpor, ranging from facultative to obligatory. Fat may be stored in the tail during the rainy season as a reserve for torpor during the dry season.

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