Behavior

They are strictly nocturnal and arboreal forest dwellers; often gathering from their individual hiding places in sometimes large groups during the hours of twilight and darkness in order to proceed to their separate feeding places. Daytime is usually spent curled up in a ball asleep in a hollow tree, thick foliage, vines, or other similar hiding places. Their sleeping hole or nest may be used for years. In the afternoon, they often stick their heads out of their hiding place, and sit dozing for hours. An exception to this occurs on Nosy Be where the species Lepilemur dorsalis (gray-backed sportive lemur) often sleeps out in the open because of a lack of predators. Socially, each species of sportive lemurs live basically solitary lives in their single territories except for mothers with their infants. Some marking of territories occur with urine and the secretion from glands in the circumanal (posterior) region. Males inhabit and vigorously defend territories (from other sportive lemur neighbors of the same sex) of about

A white-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus) forages. (Photo by Harald Schütz. Reproduced by permission.)

30,000 sq ft (3,000 sq m), but which can go up to 107,000 sq ft (10,000 sq m). These territories are in the immediate overlapping vicinity to one or more females who roam territories of about 20,000 sq ft (2,000 sq m).

Their primary means of communication is a relatively large vocal repertoire. Locomotion is by vertical clinging and leaping, quickly moving among vertical tree trunks and boughs with occasional bipedal hops (similar to the movement used by kangaroos) on the ground. They are able to leap with the powerful extension of their hind limbs. They are also able to run on all four limbs, or hop on their two hind limbs, either along the branches of a tree or on the ground. The tail is not important for balancing.

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