Ruffed lemurs are among the most vocal of the non-human primates. ( as many as 12 vocalizations have been observed at The Duke Primate Center) In the early morning, early evening, and randomly throughout the day, the red ruffed lemurs give a raucous loud call that can be heard for miles. The red ruffed lemurs are the largest lemurs found at the Myakka City Lemur Reserve, weighing 3.3 to 3.8 kg (approximately 8 lbs) and the largest in the family Lemuridae. They are quite distinctive with bright pelage that varies from strawberry blond to deep red, with black on the face, abdomen, chest, tail and inside of the legs and arms; a creamy patch can be seen at the base of the head (Mittermeier et al, 2006). The staff at the reserve often use the patches of white found on the hands and feet to distinguish one individual from another.
In Madagascar, red ruffed lemurs can only be found on the Masoala Peninsula and typically inhabit tropical moist lowland forest. They prefer tall forests, and are often seen in the crowns of large feeding trees (Vasey, 1997b). At the reserve, the red ruffed lemurs prefer the large horizontal branches of the live oaks but move quickly, agilely, and frequently through the crowns of our tallest slash pines. CLICK HERE to read more about red ruffed lemurs at the Lemur Conservation Foundation’s Myakka City Reserve
The IUCN Red List states that the red ruffed lemur is endangered. Logging, burning of habitat, mining, hunting, and the illegal pet trade are primary threats. They also have natural predators such as boa constrictors, eagles, and the fossa. The creation of the Masoala National Park in 1997 has helped protect this species, but many red ruffed lemurs do not live within the park’s boundaries, and are still at high risk.
The exact number of the red ruffed lemur in the wild is not fully known, but recent studies show that they are endangered with a declining wild population. The captive population of red ruffed lemurs is approximately 591 animals. A population of 500 animals is needed to have a gene pool with sufficient diversity for successful breeding. The population of red ruffed lemurs is directed by a Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Lemur Conservation Foundation participates in the red ruffed lemur’s SSP and breeding program.