Redbellied lemur

Lemur rubriventer

TAXONOMY

Lemur rubriventer Geoffroy, 1850, Tamatave, Madagascar. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Lémur a ventre rouge, German: Rotbauchlemur, Rot-bauchmaki; Spanish: Lemur de vientre rojo.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Average adult head-and-body length is 15 in (40 cm), with a tail length of 20 in (50 cm) and an adult body weight of 4.5 lb (2 kg). There is some sexual dichromatism. Both sexes have dark brown pelages and black tails, but males have reddish brown undersides (hence the common name) while females differ with cream-white undersides. Males have prominent white teardrop-shaped marks under the eyes, which females do not have. Males keep a scent gland on the tops of their heads.

DISTRIBUTION

Eastern Madagascar.

HABITAT

Red-bellies live throughout the belt of middle to high-altitude rainforests that runs north-south in eastern Madagascar.

BEHAVIOR

Red-bellied lemurs live in family groups of up to five individuals, each led by a bonded monogamous pair, though females are still dominant and lead foraging trips. A typical group keeps a territory of 30-37 acres (12-15 ha). Red-bellied lemurs only rarely show territorial behavior. In most cases, groups of neighboring territories, on meeting, scarcely acknowledge each other and almost never fuss.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Red-bellied lemurs forage for the fruit, flowers, and leaves of at least 30 species of tropical forest plants.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Individuals reach sexual maturity at two years of age. Pairs mate during May through June and young are born after a 120-day gestation. Mothers bear one young per season. Raising the young in red-bellied lemurs departs from the standard Lemuridae model: the young at first cling to their mother's undersides, switching to riding on her back in two weeks. From then until five weeks, the young will take clinging rides on both parents, sharing time between the two equally. After the fifth week, females start refusing to carry the young, handing them over to the father to carry constantly, until the young are about 100 days old.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Vulnerable. The main threat to red-bellied lemurs is the ongoing destruction of Madagascar's eastern rainforests.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Red-bellied lemurs are hunted and trapped for food. ♦

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