We are not experts on the endemic mammals of Madagascar. If you find a misidentification here, please contact us and we will correct it.
Lemurs: Many lemurs are diurnal and live in family grouos or troops in which females are dominant. Lemurs have a well-developed sense of smell. There are 103 known living species, 39 of them only described by zoologists between 2000 and 2008, plus at least seventeen species which have gone extinct since man's arrival, all of them larger than any of the living species. All lemur species are rare, vulnerable, or endangered. A third of the world's primate families occur only in Madagascar.
Bamboo lemurs (5 Hapalemur species, 3 subspecies, and one Prolemur species) are medium-sized primates found only in Madagascar. They have grey-brown speckled fur, short muzzles, and round, hairy ears. They live in damp forests where bamboo grows. They eat bamboo almost excusively.
The Southern bamboo lemur (southern lesser bamboo lemur, rusty-gray bamboo lemur, Southern gentle lemur), Hapalemur meridionalis, is endemic to south-eastern Madagascar.
At Andasibe, the grey bamboo lemur (Eastern lesser bamboo lemur), Hapalemur griseus (three subspecies) feeds mainly on bamboo. This is the most widespread bamboo lemur.
Brown (true or typical) lemurs (12 species) are medium-sized primates found only on Madagascar. They are primarily diurnal but are active at night if there is a full moon. They are widespread throughout all the forests of Madagascar except the spiny bush. Males are differently marked and colored than females. All brown lemur females are largely uniform in color and similar to one another, generally with a brown body and black or grey head. Brown lemurs generally live in troops of five to fifteen animals with roughly equal numbers of males and females. They eat mostly fruits, plus leaves and flowers.
At Manafiafy, the collared brown lemur (red-collared brown lemur), Eulemur collaris. The animal is found only in tropical moist lowland forests in southeast Madagascar. They are active during the day and night and eat mostly fruit. They live in multi-male/multi-female social groups.
At Andasibe, the common brown lemur, Eulemur fulvus, has short dense brown or grey-brown fur with a dark grey or black face, muzzle, and crown with paler eyebrow patches, and orange eyes. Unlike other Eulemur species, the two sexes are very similar in appearance.
The red-fronted brown lemur, Eulemur rufifrons, is native to the dry lowland forests of south-central Madagascar.
Kirindy is the northern limit of where they are found. The males are grey and the females are chestnut brown.
The rare Mongoose lemur, Eulemur mongoz, is native to northwest Madagascar. They are also found in the Comoros Islands, probably introduced. They eat fruits, leaves, flowers, and nectar. They live in dry deciduous forests.
White-fronted brown lemurs (white-headed lemur, white-headed brown lemur, white-fronted lemur), Eulemur albifron,are found in northeast Madagascar. They live in rainforest tree tops. Males have grey-brown upper parts with darker lower limbs and tail and have a grey head and face with bushy white cheeks and beards and a darker crown. Females have reddish-brown upper parts, pale underparts, and darker feet than males. Their heads, faces, and muzzles are dark grey.
Rufus brown lemurs (rufous brown lemur, red lemur, northern red-fronted lemur), Eulemur rufus, live in dry lowland forests in northwest Madagascar between the Betsiboka River in the north and the Tsiribihina River in the south. They have grey coats, muzzles, and foreheads, with a black line from the muzzle to the forehead, and white eyebrow patches. Males have white or cream-colored cheeks and beards. Females have rufous or cream cheeks and beards that are less bushy than the males'.
The crowned lemur, Eulemur coronatus, is endemic to the dry deciduous forests of the northern tip of Madagascar. Most live in the Ankarana plateau region although there is a population in Amber Mountain. They have a distinctive orange-brown crown on the top of the head. Females have a grey body with an orange crown. Males are darker reddish brown, crowned with black and orange.
The Sanford's brown lemur (Sanford's lemur), Eulemur sanfordi, here found at Amber Mountain, is found at the very northernmost tip of Madagascar, especially in Ankarana and Amber Mountain, in tropical moist, dry lowland, and montane forests. They eat primarily fruit.
Black lemurs, Eulemur macaco, live in northwest Madagascar, in moist forests in the Sambirano region and nearby islands like Nosy Be. Males are black or dark chocolate brown with black ear tufts. Females are medium brown, chestnut brown, or orange-brown with white ear tufts. They mainly eat fruit.
Ruffed lemurs (two species; the black-and-white ruffed lemur has three subspecies) are the largest lemurs. They live in eastern rainforests and eat mostly fruit. Boath species are threatened. They adapt well to captivity and so are among the species most commonly seen in zoos. Females generally give birth to twins or even triplets. The young do not cling to their mother but instead stay in a nest while she forages.
The black-and-white ruffed lemur found at Andasibe, Varecia varieagata variegata (three subspecies) eats mainly fruit, nectar, leaves, and some seeds. It is known for its loud raucous calls. They live in multi-male multi-female groups and build nests for newborn infants, the only primate to do so, and carry them by mouth.
White-belted ruffed lemur (white-bellied ruffed lemur), Varecia variegata subcincta, is found furthest to the north of the three subspecies of black and white ruffed lemurs, in northeast Madagascar. They eat mostly fruit.
Red ruffed Lemur, Varecia rubra, is native only to the rainforests of Masoala in northeast Madagascar. It is one of the largest primates in Madagascar. Its soft thick fur is rusty red and black, with black head, stomach, feet, and the inside of the legs, with a buff or cream-colored spot at the nape of the neck. Their small black ears are often hidden by their long fur. Some have white markings on their feet or mouths.
Ringtail lemurs (all one species):
The ring-tailed lemur, Lemur catta, is called "maky" in the Malagasy language ("maki" in French). They live in gallery forest and spiny forest areas in southern Madagascar, They are omnivorous, territorial, highly social, and active only during the daytime. The ring-tailed lemur is Madagascar's national animal. They form large social groups of twenty or more individuals, dominated by the females. They need to drink water.
Ringtail lemur grooming.
The indri, Indri indri, is one of the largest living lemurs. They are related to sifakas. Indris have large greenish eyes, a black face, round fuzzy ears, and very short tails. They have silky black fur with white patches along the limbs, crown, and lower back. Indris make loud wailing territorial calls, sounding like fire engine sirens. Indris, which do not survive in captivity, are found in the lowland and montane forests of eastern Madagascar. Indris live in small family groups, normally an adult pair and their offspring. They mate for life. Females give birth every other year to a single offspring.
Indri territorial calls:
Sifakas (9 species):
Sifakas are great jumpers and climbers but are very awkward on the ground, where they are not able to walk but must hop sideways, sometimes referred to as "dancing". Three species of sifakas are found in rainforest regions and six in dry forests. In the dry south and west sifakas are predominantly white with small patches of color.
The verreaux's or white sifaka, Propithecus verreauxi (4 subspecies), lives in the southern spiny forest. It has thick silky white fur with brown on the sides, the top of the head, and on the arms. This species is endangered. They get all the water they need from the leaves they eat, rathern than drinking.
Verreaux's sifaka eating.
Kirindy is the northern limit of where they are found.
The diademed sifaka (simpona, simpony, ankomba joby) found at Andasibe, Propithecus diadema, is an endangered species endemic to the east-central lowland rainforests of Madagascar. It has long silky fur. White fur surrounds the muzzle and covers the cheeks. The face is dark grey to black. Crown fur is black. Hands and feet are black. It is one of the world's largest living lemurs.
The crowned sifaka, Propithecus coronatus, is native to west-central Madagascar's mangrove and riparian forests. It has a creamy-white body and tail, golden-brown shoulders, upper chest, and back, dark brown or black head, and white ear tufts. The face is dark grey, sometimes lighter at the bridge of the nose. They are found in a narrow area between the Betsiboko and Mahavavy Rivers.
The Coquerel's sifaka, Propithecus coquereli, is native to northwest Madagascar's dry deciduous forests. It has a white back and tail, maroon patches on the chest and limbs, a black or brown face with white fur along the bridge of the nose, and naked black ears. The hands and feet are black. The thighs, arms, and chest are dark brown, and the eyes are yellow or orange.
Decken's sifakas (Von der Decken's sifaka), Propithecus deckenii, live in western Madagascar's dry deciduous forests. They are creamy-white with tinges of yellow-gold, silver grey, or pale brown on the neck, shoulders, back, and limbs. The face and ears are entirely black. They are found in regions south of the Mahavavy River and north of the Manambolo River. The easiest place to see them is at Tsingy de Bemaraha.
Decke's sifaka leaping:
There are at least 33 species of nocturnal mouse and dwarf lemurs.
Mouse lemurs (21 species), many so similar that distinguishing them in the field is difficult:
The grey mouse lemur, Microcebus murinus, is the largest mouse lemur. It is nocturnal and arboreal. It eats fruit, insects, flowers, and nectar. It is one of Madagascar's most abundant small native mammals, found throughout southern and western Madagascar.
The Brown mouse lemur at Andasibe, Microcebus rufus, is brown on its dorsal (back) side and whitish-grey on its ventral (front) side. They are short-lived for a primate, living only 6-8 years, solitary, and nocturnal.
Dwarf lemurs (7 species):
At Andasibe, the greater dwarf lemur, Cheirogaleus major, lives in forest and dry scrub areas in the east and is nocturnal. It has short dense grey or reddish-brown fur with dark circles around the eyes.
The fat-tailed dwarf lemur (lesser dwarf lemur, western fat-tailed dwarf lemur, spiny forest dwarf lemur, thick-tailed dwarf lemur), Chaeirgaleus medius, is the only primate which hibernates (estivates), sleeping for the winter in tree holes for up to seven months. They are very long-lived for such a small animal, up to thirty years. While hibenating the animal relies on the fat stored in its tail for energy. They are nocturnal, eating insects, fruits, and flowers. They are found in the west.
Woolly lemur (9 species) have distinctive white patches on their thighs. They eat leaves.
Southern woolly lemurs (Southern avahi), Avahi meridonalis, are the smallest indriid lemurs. Their fur is short and woolly. They are found in the Sainte Luce forest.
Sportive (weasel) lemurs (26 species) are medium-sized primates found only on Madagascar. Their fur is grey-brown or reddish on top and whitish-yellow underneath. Typically they have a short head with large round ears. They are strictly nocturnal and mostly solitary. They eat mostly leaves. Sportive lemur species are based on genetic differences rather than outwardly visible features, so distinguishing them in the field is difficult. Their ranges do not overlap, so geographical location is the easiest way to identify them.
Red-tailed sportive lemurs (red-tailed weasel lemur), Lepilemur ruficaudatus, are nocturnal, eat leaves and some fruit, and are native to Madagascar dry deciduous forests.
Randrianasolo's sportive lemur, Lepilemur randrianasoloi, is found in western Madagascar.
Gray-backed sportive lemur (Gray's sportive lemur, back-striped sportive lemur), Lepilemur dorsalis, is threatened by habitat loss. They are found in northwest Madagascar.
The Ankarana sportive lemur (Ankarana weasel lemur), Lepilemur ankaranensis, is one of the smaller sportive lemurs. It is found in northern Madagascar, in dry lowland forests in Ankarana and in moist montane forest of Amber Mountain.
The fossa, Cryptoprocta ferox, a cat-like animal endemic to Madagascar, is the island's largest carnivore.
The easiest place to see a fossa in the wild is at Kirindy.
Ringtailed vontsira (ringtailed mongoose, vontsira mena, red vontsira), Galidia elegans dambrensis, northern subspecies, here at Amber Mountain, is very agile, a good climber, playful, and active during daylight. They live in humid forests, and eat small mammals, invertebrates, fish, reptiles, eggs, and occasionally insects and fruits. There are three subspecies: north (this one), east, and west. These diurnal animals have a rich russet coat and distinctive banded tail.
Bats: Madagascar has two sorts of bats: fruit bats and flyimg foxes (three species), and insectivorous bats. Seventy percent of the bat species are endemic.
The Madagascar Flying fox (fruit bat), Pteropus rufus, is found in subtropical or tropical forests and feeds on nectar, blossoms, pollen, and fruit, especially figs. It is Madagascar's largest bat.
Flying fox grooming itself.
14 species of small insect-eating bats are found in the caves of Ankarana.
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Last modified 18 June 2018