Lepilemur edwardsi (Forbes, 1894), Betsaka, Madagascar, 12 mi (19.3 km) inland from Majunga.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
Spanish: Lémur juguetón de Milne-Edwards.
Milne-Edwards's sportive lemurs have a head and body length of 10.6-11.4 in (27.0-29.0 cm), with a tail length of 10.6-11.4 in (27.0-29.0 cm) and an approximate weight of 2.2 lb (1.0 kg). They are arboreal and nocturnal, and possess binocular vision, a large cecum, and their hands and feet contain large digital pads that are used for clinging. The species has a pelage color that is gray-brown on the dorsal side with a reddish brown wash and gray ventrally speckled with cream colorations.
They live in dry forests. The population density of the species is about 57 animals per 0.4 sq mi (1.0 sq km). Their home ranges are relatively small.
The social structure of the species is based around mothers and their young. Males live alone and have home ranges that overlap one or more females. Mothers often will leave their young on branches, while they forage for food. Mothers will transport their several week old young by picking them up in their mouths. All animals are highly territorial, with the males sometimes defending their territory in violent means. Two or three individuals may sleep together in a tree hole by day, but will roam separately by night. They move through the forest by vertical clinging and leaping, tending to leap between tree limbs with sloping and horizontal supports. They are able to leap distances of 13 ft (4 m) or more.
Communication comes with various sounds, but with three primary calls. The "loud" calls are used more often as male ter
ritorial calls, to demarcate a male's territory and to caution other males that an area is taken. The call sounds similar to a crow, starting out like "oooai," and then followed by a rapid series of "oui oui oui" sounds. Mothers often use the "contact" call in order to keep in contact with their infants that are set on tree branches as they forage for food. The call sounds like "tchen". The "contact-rejection" call often occurs when an individual approaches another one. It consists of a series of resonant hissing calls, which is followed by a two-phase vocalization.
Milne-Edwards's sportive lemurs are primarily a folivorous (leaf eating) species. It also eats a small amount of fruits and flowers in order to supplement its diet. It will also eat older leaves and even dead or dying leaves of Tabemaemontana modesta. The animals forage for various types of foods that are found relatively close together. The leaves that they consume are relatively low in available sugars, which mean it has a low energy diet. This diet contributes to a small home range because of its reduced thermoregulation levels. It is also a cecotroph, re-digesting their feces in order to further break down the cellulose in the leaves.
The mating system is polygynous, where a male will visit one or more females during the mating season. Females give birth to a single young.
Listed as Lower Risk/Near Threatened by the IUCN. Also listed on CITES Appendix I and as endangered by the U.S. ESA. Total populations are estimated to number more than 100,000, and the species is threatened with destruction of its habitat.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS Hunted for food. ♦
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