types of lemur
HOME · Biodiversity
animals

20 Types of Lemurs: Species, Facts and Photos

Originating from the isolated lands of Madagascar, lemurs have evolved into over a hundred species, each with unique characteristics. This article explores the different types of lemurs, highlighting their distinguishing features, habitats, behaviors, and diets. 

Lemur Classification

Lemurs belong to the order of Primates and the infraorder Lemuriformes. There are five lemur families in the infraorder, including Lemuridae, Indriidae, Daubentoniidae, Cheirogaleidae, and Lepilemuridae (the sportive lemurs). 

The Lemuridae family has the highest number of species, while the Daubentoniidae family has a single species, the Aye-Aye. 

To appreciate lemur diversity, the following sections will discuss the unique characteristics and adaptations of some species for each family.

Related Read: Lemur Facts, Types of Monkeys.

20 Types of Lemur Species

1. Ring-Tailed Lemur (Lemur catta)

Ring-Tailed Lemur
Photo by Mathias Appel on Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

The Ring-Tailed Lemur features a distinctive black-and-white striped tail. They are comfortable on the ground and in trees, forming groups of 15 to 20. Female lemurs occupy a dominant position within the group. They communicate using a mix of sounds, smells, and sights. 

Moreover, Ring-tailed Lemurs feed on fruits, leaves, flowers, bark, small invertebrates, and chameleons. They also observe peculiar sunbathing behavior, which has earned them the term 'lemur yoga'.

2. Red Ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra)

Red Ruffed Lemur
Photo by Mathias Appel on Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

The Red Ruffed Lemur lives in the rainforests of northeastern Madagascar. It has a red and black coat with a white tufted tail and a distinctive mane around its face. 

It is one of the largest lemurs on the island and primarily feeds on fruit. This lemur disperses seeds through its feces, aiding in ecosystem regeneration.

Unfortunately, the Red Ruffed Lemur Is critically endangered due to illegal logging and hunting3. Conserving this species is essential for maintaining the balance of the entire Madagascar ecosystem.

3. Black and White Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata)

Black and White Ruffed Lemur
Photo by Flickr on Pexels.

The Black and White Ruffed Lemur is the largest in Madagascar. They have black and white coats and are well-suited for their arboreal lifestyle. 

Moreover, they are skilled climbers and jumpers, spending most of their time high in the forest canopy. They build nests for their young and communicate with loud, echoing calls. Regarding diet, they primarily feed on fruit, nectar, and pollen, making them essential pollinators and seed dispersers. 

These highly social creatures live in small groups of 2-5 individuals. Additionally, they have an average lifespan of 18-20 years in the wild but can live up to 25 years under human care.

4. Greater Bamboo Lemur (Prolemur simus)

Greater Bamboo Lemur
Photo by Cedricguppy - Loury Cédric on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Greater Bamboo Lemur is a greyish-brown lemur species found in the southeastern region of Madagascar. They measure up to 1.5 feet long and weigh around 5 pounds. 

Moreover, they mainly eat bamboo using long, sturdy, narrow incisors. They also eat fruits, flowers, and soil. These lemurs form intimate groups of 2 to 6 individuals and communicate using grunts, calls, and alarm signals. 

However, Greater Bamboo Lemurs are critically endangered species2 due to slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal logging, and mining.

5. Golden Bamboo Lemur (Hapalemur aureus)

Golden Bamboo Lemur
Photo by Rachel Kramer on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Golden Bamboo Lemur is a small lemur species with vibrant golden fur. It lives in closely-knit family groups and communicates through a range of vocalizations. 

While its primary food source, bamboo, is high in cyanide, the Golden Bamboo Lemur can ingest up to 500 grams of bamboo shoots daily1. This lemur plays a crucial role in bamboo propagation thanks to its diet. 

Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, the bamboo lemurs are currently listed as critically endangered, with less than 249 mature individuals in the wild.

6. Common Brown Lemur (Eulemur fulvus)

Common Brown Lemur
Photo by Charles J. Sharp on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Common Brown Lemur lives in Madagascar's rainforests and dry deciduous habitats. They have vibrant eyes and reddish-brown coats.

They live in groups of 5 to 12 individuals, with females often taking on the dominant role. Mainly active during the day, they make loud calls after sunset. Moreover, they play an essential role in seed dispersal due to their diet.

7. Red-Bellied Lemur (Eulemur rubriventer)

Red-Bellied Lemur
Photo by Francesco Veronesi on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Red-Bellied Lemur lives in Madagascar's eastern rainforests. It has distinctive reddish fur on its bellies and chests. These medium-sized primates prefer the cooler morning and late afternoon for their daily activities. 

The Red-Bellied Lemur typically lives in family groups of a pair-bonded for life and their offspring. Females tend to lead the groups and claim the best food finds. They eat fruits, leaves, flowers, bark, and insects. 

Moreover, the lemurs communicate through vocalizations, scent markings, and body language. Aside from communication, these lemurs bond socially through mutual grooming, strengthening their social bonds. 

8. Blue-Eyed Black Lemur (Eulemur flavifrons)

Blue-Eyed Black Lemur
Photo by Charlie Marshall on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Blue-Eyed Black Lemur lives in the forests of northwestern Madagascar. Both male and female lemurs have distinct blue eyes, rare among lemurs. 

These lemurs are skilled climbers active both during the day and at night. They eat fruits, leaves, flowers, insects, bark, soil, and small vertebrates. 

Moreover, they live in groups of 2-15, communicating through vocalizations, scents, facial expressions, and body postures.

9. Mongoose Lemur (Eulemur mongoz)

Mongoose Lemur
Photo by Lea Maimone on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 (Cropped from original).

The Mongoose Lemur is a small lemur species in Madagascar and the Comoros Islands. They have gray and brown fur, a darker stripe from the forehead to the tail, dark rings around their eyes, and charcoal snout. 

They are flexible in their diet and daily routines, switching between daytime activity in the wet season and nighttime activity in the dry season. Mongoose Lemurs primarily consume fruit, flowers, and leaves during the wet season and leaves during the dry season.

10. Crowned Lemur (Eulemur coronatus)

Crowned Lemur
Photo by Flickr on Pexels.

The Crowned Lemur inhabits Madagascar's dry deciduous forests. Its head is covered with dark fur crowns, and females have gray coats while males have reddish-brown hues. 

Moreover, they consume fruits, leaves, flowers, and insects. They also eat clay to neutralize toxins from their food. 

Crowned Lemurs live in groups of 5 to 15; females are the dominant sex in their society.

11. Verreaux's Sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi)

Verreaux's Sifaka
Photo by Ron Knight on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

Verreaux's Sifaka is a lemur found in the dry regions of western and southern Madagascar. They perform a unique 'dance,' which involves hopping sideways on hind legs with arms raised for balance. These lemurs have a silky white coat punctuated with dark patches around their eyes, hands, feet, and crown. 

They form social groups of two to twelve individuals consisting of males and females. Moreover, they communicate through vocalizations, visual signals, and scent markings. They eat leaves, flowers, and bark, although they also eat fruits. 

Unfortunately, Verreaux's Sifaka is critically endangered due to an ongoing decline in habitat quality, driven by deforestation, agriculture, charcoal production, and an unsustainable hunting rate. As these threats remain high and are difficult to reverse, a population reduction of 90% over the next 30 years is feared. 

12. Coquerel's Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli)

Coquerel's Sifaka
Photo by Francesco Veronesi on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Coquerel's Sifaka lives in northwestern Madagascar. They perform a unique movement called vertical clingers and leapers. They feed on leaves, fruits, flowers, and bark and play a crucial role in seed dispersal. 

Moreover, they live in groups of 3 to 10 individuals and communicate using vocalizations, body language, and facial expressions. 

Habitat loss due to deforestation and hunting threatens their existence, but they continue to thrive in their natural habitat.

13. Indri Lemur (Indri indri)

Indri Lemur
Photo by Marian Havenga on Pexels.

The Indri lemur performs vocalizations that are audible up to 2km away. These sounds strengthen social bonds, warn of predators, or stake out a territory. 

The indri, unique among lemurs, features mainly a stubby tail and large green eyes. It boldly moves through trees with an upright posture, using its strong legs for leaping. Notably, its silky, black-and-white fur varies extensively between populations.

Moreover, Indri lemurs are agile and active during the day. They prefer a folivorous diet but consume fruits, seeds, and flowers.

14. Eastern Woolly Lemur (Avahi laniger)

Eastern Woolly Lemur
Photo by Leonora (Ellie) Enking on Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Eastern Woolly Lemur is a small, tree-dwelling species found in the rainforests of Madagascar. These woolly lemurs, named for their curled, dense fur, emit a sharp, loud defensive call, earning their common name, Avahi. Their big eyes and small rounded head lend them an owl-like demeanor.

It also enters a dormancy called torpor during the dry season when food is scarce. These lemurs form monogamous pairs and communicate through melodious duets.

15. Western Woolly Lemur (Avahi occidentalis)

Western Woolly Lemur
Photo by Alextelford on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original).

The Western Woolly Lemur is a tree-dwelling creature found in the forests of Madagascar's west and northwest. These nocturnal lemurs have a woolly coat ranging from shades of grey to reddish-brown, with a distinctive white patch on the back of its head and neck. 

The lemurs feed mainly on legume leaves and form monogamous relationships. Their babies are born between May and October, communicating using a range of sounds, including grunts, whistles, and shrieks.

16. Aye-Aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)

Aye-Aye
Photo by nomis-simon on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Aye-Aye is a nocturnal lemur found in Madagascar's forests. Its unique features include bat-like ears, beady eyes, and elongated fingers. 

Moreover, it uses its thin, skeletal middle finger for percussive foraging, a technique exclusive to this type of lemur. Its diverse diet includes grubs, fruits, seeds, nectar, and fungi.

17. Grey Mouse Lemur (Microcebus murinus)

The Grey Mouse Lemur inhabits Madagascar's deciduous forests. It measures 12-13 cm in body length and weighs between 60-120 grams. 

This nocturnal lemur feeds on fruits, insects, flowers, and occasionally small vertebrates. When food is scarce during the dry season, it enters a state of torpor to conserve energy. 

Although mostly solitary, it occasionally forms temporary sleeping groups. These mouse lemurs communicate using high-pitched calls, particularly during mating season.

18. Brown Mouse Lemur (Microcebus rufus)

Brown Mouse Lemur
Photo by Bernard DUPONT on Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Brown Mouse Lemur lives in the rainforests of eastern Madagascar. Its reddish-brown fur and tail provide effective camouflage against the tree bark. This nocturnal animal has large, round eyes and can leap from branch to branch. 

Brown Mouse Lemurs also consume fruits, insects, small invertebrates, tree sap, and nectar. The Brown Mouse Lemur disperses seeds and is a prey item in the food chain.

Interestingly, it follows a unique multi-male/multi-female mating system, resulting in a diverse gene pool that strengthens the species' resilience. 

The species also enter torpor, a state of reduced physical activity that helps conserve energy during food scarcity or dry weather. 

19. Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus medius)

Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur
Photo by Frank Vassen on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur lives in the dry, deciduous, and spiny forests of Madagascar. Its most distinctive feature is its fat tail, which serves as a storage unit for food during the winter months. 

Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemurs also prey on small vertebrates and bird eggs. Moreover, these animals form monogamous pairs and defend their shared territory. 

However, habitat loss due to deforestation for agriculture, logging, and charcoal production threatens these dwarf lemurs.

20. Madame Berthe's Mouse Lemur (Microcebus berthae)

 Madame Berthe's Mouse Lemur
Photo by FC Casuario on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

 Madame Berthe's Mouse Lemur is tied to Berthe Rakotosamimanana, a dedicated conservationist from Madagascar. This small primate inhabits exclusively the Kirindy Forest in Madagascar, napping in the tangled tree vines and reflecting its specialist nature. 

Evidently an omnivore, it primarily consumed fruits and flowers across different tree and shrub species. Additionally, insect secretions, gum, arthropods, and small vertebrates like geckos and chameleons supplement its diet. 

Unfortunately, Madame Berthe's Mouse Lemur is currently critically endangered. Habitat degradation, forced by agriculture, illegal logging, and charcoal production, jeopardizes its survival. 

While protective measures for its home in the Menabe-Antimena Protected Area exist, unchecked deforestation poses an escalating threat. Without substantial changes in the lemur habitats, extinction may be a reality within a decade for this species.

1

Glander, K. E., Wright, P. C., Seigler, D. S., Randrianasolo, V., & Randrianasolo, B. (1989). Consumption of cyanogenic bamboo by a newly discovered species of bamboo lemur. American Journal of Primatology, 19(2), 119–124.

2

Ravaloharimanitra, M., King, T., Wright, P., Raharivololona, B., Ramaherison, R.P., Louis, E.E., Frasier, C.L., Dolch, R., Roullet, D., Razafindramanana, J., Volampeno, S., Randriahaingo, H.N.T., Randrianarimanana, L., Borgerson, C. & Mittermeier, R.A. (2020). Prolemur simus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T9674A115564770. 

3

Borgerson, C., Eppley, T.M., Patel, E., Johnson, S., Louis, E.E. & Razafindramanana, J. (2020). Varecia rubraThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T22920A115574598. 

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Irish Heart Photography on Pexels.
Pin Me:
Pin Image Portrait 20 Types of Lemurs: Species, Facts and Photos
Sign Up for Updates
SIGN UP