STATUS IN THE WILD: Critically Endangered
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
These lemurs, along with the red ruffed lemur, are the largest lemurs currently found in the lemur family. They average between eight and eleven pounds, and their tails are about two feet long. Their tail is used for balance when climbing trees. Male and female black and white lemurs have no physical differences. They are covered in a patchwork of pure white and black fur, varying in pattern with their range.
Lemurs typically spend most of their time in the trees, using their fingers and toes to grip onto branches. They have semi-opposable thumbs on their hands and the ability to hang upside down from their feet. This species of lemur uses different call sounds to communicate like letting others know of their presence, displaying dominance, or sounding an alarm to warn others. They have multiple scent glands on their bodies and use these to mark branches and trees with their bodies to let other lemurs know they are around.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
The black and white ruffed lemur is active mainly in the early morning and the late afternoon. This lemur leaps from tree to tree and is capable of leaping a significant distance with great accuracy. These lemurs live in groups ranging from a single pair to a group of eight to sixteen individuals, including adults of both sexes. The females can generally start reproducing as young as twenty months of age.
This lemur reproduces seasonally, with mating season occurring between May and July. Babies are born in September and October, meaning gestation typically lasts around three months. Unlike other lemurs, the black and white female lemur will make a nest before giving birth, typically made of leaves and twigs about thirty feet up in the trees. These lemurs typically give birth to twins, sometimes even triplets. At four months of age the young are independent and just as active as the adults; however, only thirty-five percent of the offspring live past three months, most dying from accidental falls and related injuries.
The black and white ruffed lemur inhabits eastern Madagascar.
These lemurs stay in the middle to upper canopy of the rainforests; the large groups often stay in larger trees and branches.
Black and white ruffed lemurs eat fruit, seeds, leaves, and nectar. They are known to travel through the treetops, foraging for fruit and flowers along the way. On rare occasions, they will eat animal matter.