Reproductive biology

Sexual maturity is generally achieved between 3-5 years of age in indris and sifakas. Data concerning sexual maturity of woolly lemurs does not exist. Both males and females emigrate from natal groups after sexual maturity in indris, woolly lemurs, and sifakas. Male and female sifakas may change groups more than once, or occasionally remain in

A golden-crowned sifaka (Propithecus tattersalli) feeds in the trees of Madagascar. (Photo by Harald Schutz. Reproduced by permission.)

their natal group for a lifetime. Sifakas are seasonal breeders, mating in December or January. Male testicles begin to increase in size three months before the mating season (when the females come into estrus). Female sifakas have a 10-36 hour interval when they are in estrus, and they may come into estrus 1-3 times each year. In the wild they usually are pregnant after one breeding season. Females have swollen, bright pink vulvas when in estrus. Sifaka mating occurs when a male clasps a female around the waist and thrusts 10-50 times. Indris mate face-to-face, while hanging from a branch. Indris gestate for about six months. The smaller verraux's sifaka has a gestation of five months, while the larger diademed sifaka gestate for six months. A single infant is born fully furred and able to cling. Weights at birth are small, less than 0.2% of the mother's weight. Weaning occurs at about six months of age.

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