Many consider the red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra) the most beautiful of all the lemurs. Their coat is primarily a rust-colored red, offset by the lemur’s black face, hands, feet, belly, and tail. The red ruff along its face, resembling sideburns, gives this lemur its name.
Ruffed lemurs are the largest of the Lemuridae family of primates, and the red ruffed lemur is about 60 centimeters (23 inches) long with a black, furry tail that is almost the same length. Only found on the island of Madagascar, it is particular about its habitat. It lives mainly in the deciduous tropical forests in northeastern Madagascar on the Masoala Peninsula.
Red ruffed lemurs spend most of their lives high in the upper canopy of the tropical rainforest, rarely descending to the ground. When they move through the trees, it’s quite a spectacle. They hurl themselves from tree to tree without hesitation, crashing through the vegetation of lower branches.
Their diet consists mostly of fruit, nectar, and pollen. When they stick their long, fox-like snouts deep into tubular flowers to feed on the nectar, they get pollen on their noses. They pass that pollen to another flower as they continue feeding. With this behavior, these lemurs play a key role in the pollination of some species of hardwood trees and plants.
In the late 1990s, Madagascar created Masoala Park to protect these lemurs, plus a number of other native species. In 2009, during a period of political unrest, the park was largely unprotected and people began illegally logging the forests. Rosewood, an important hardwood in the red ruffed lemurs’ habitat, was heavily logged because of its commercial value.
Logging, hunting, frequent cyclones (hurricanes), and forest fires pose threats to this species, and red ruffed lemurs are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
How do red ruffed lemurs keep their thick coats clean?
How do red ruffed lemurs communicate?
What important role do red ruffed lemurs play in their ecosystem?
How did Madagascar’s political problems impact the protection of the red ruffed lemur?
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry canopy Noun
one of the top layers of a forest, formed by the thick leaves of very tall trees.
having to do with the buying and selling of goods and services.
weather system that rotates around a center of low pressure and includes thunderstorms and rain. Usually, hurricanes refer to cyclones that form over the Atlantic Ocean.
type of plant that sheds its leaves once a year.
endangered species Noun
organism threatened with extinction.
Encyclopedic Entry: endangered species hardwood Noun
the strong, dense wood, of flowering trees.
industry engaged in cutting down trees and moving the wood to sawmills.
indigenous, or from a specific geographic region.
powdery material produced by plants, each grain of which contains a male gamete capable of fertilizing a female ovule.
transfer of pollen from the male part of a plant to the female part of a plant.
rain forest Noun
area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall.
Encyclopedic Entry: Rain forest tropical Adjective
existing in the tropics, the latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south.
all the plant life of a specific place.