Red Lemur

Red Lemur

Rufous brown lemur, Northern red-fronted lemur

Eulemur rufus
Population size
Life Span
20-25 years
kg lbs 
cm inch 

The red lemur (Eulemur rufus ), also known as the rufous brown lemur or northern red-fronted lemur, is a species of lemur from Madagascar. Until 2001, the species E. rufus was considered a subspecies of the common brown lemur, E. fulvus, after which it was classified as its own species. In December 2008, the species was split into two separate species, the red lemur, E. rufus, distributed in dry lowland forests in northwestern Madagascar, and the red-fronted lemur, E. rufifrons, distributed in southwest and eastern Madagascar. The species split was based on genetic and morphological evidence. Mitochondrial DNA analysis indicates that E. rufifrons may be more closely related to the Common Brown Lemur (E. fulvus ), white-headed lemur (E. albifrons ) and Sanford's brown lemur (E. sanfordi ) than it is to E. rufus.

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The red lemur's range covers dry deciduous forests in southwestern Madagascar between the Betsiboka River to the north and the Tsiribihina River to the south. The Tsiribihina River forms the boundary between E. rufus, which lives north of the river, and E. rufifrons, which lives south of the river. It has a head and body length of 35 to 48 centimetres (14 to 19 in) and with a 45 to 55 centimetres (18 to 22 in) tail. Its weight ranges between 2.2 and 2.3 kilograms (4.9 and 5.1 lb). It has a gray coat and black face, muzzle and forehead, plus a black line from the muzzle to the forehead, with white eyebrow patches. Males have white or cream colored cheeks and beards, while females have rufous or cream cheeks and beards that are less bushy than males.

The species is currently listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable. The most important threats to the species are hunting, as well as habitat destruction resulting from slash-and-burn agriculture, clearing of land for pasture, fuelwood gathering and logging. The hunting level is viewed as unsustainable.

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Red lemurs have a gray coat. Their face, muzzle and forehead are balck in color with white eyebrow patches, and htere is a black line streching from the muzzle to the forehead. Males have white or cream colored cheeks and beards, and females have rufous or cream cheeks and beards that are less bushy than males.




Biogeographical realms

Red lemurs are found in western and north-western Madagascar. They occur from the Betsiboka River south to the Tsiribihina River. Red lemurs live in dry deciduous forests.

Red Lemur habitat map

Climate zones

Red Lemur habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

Red lemurs are cathemeral creatures which means that they are active throught day and night. These aninaks are social and live in groups, which consist of 5-18 individuals. Usually these groups contain a central male with a surrounding group. Young males often move to new groups. Unlike many other species of lemurs, groups of Red lemurs are not dominated by females. However, females have feeding priority and lead their group to food sources. During cold periods of time Red lemurs become less active and stay in groups huddling together for warmth. In order to communicate with each other these animals produce grunts and contact calls. For example, an "ohn" sound is used to keep the group together, a high pitched territorial "cree," and a "crou," are alarm calls. Red-fronted lemurs have several different types of alarm calls that include a general alarm call for carnivores and raptors and a specific alarm call used only for raptors. Red lemurs also use scent marking, rubbing the head against an object or another animal, and sniffing and licking of objects.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Red lemurs are herbivorous (frugivorous) animals. Fruit makes up more than a half of their diet. They also eat flowers, leaves, insects, and arthropods.

Mating Habits

120 days
1 infant
6 months

Red lemurs have a polygynandrous (promiscuous) mating system. This means that both males and females have multiple partners during a breeding season. These animals breed in May-June, and births usually occur during early to mid-October. Females give birth to a single baby after the gestation period that lasts around 120 days. The mother nurses her infant around 6 months after birth. During this period, the mother and her baby are separated from other members of the group. At first, the mother carries her infant on her belly and after around 1 month, the baby is able to ride on its mother’s back. Adult males do not carry or bring food for infants. They may allow infants to feed near them when the infant is able to move independently. Males may show some interest in infants, but usualy don't take care about them. Females in this species reach reproductive maturity between 2-4 years of age. Males become reproductively mature at 3-4.5 years of age.


Population threats

Main threats to Red lemurs are hunting, as well as habitat destruction due to slash-and-burn agriculture, clearing of land for pasture, fuelwood gathering and logging.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Red lemur total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

Ecological niche

Red lemurs consume mostly fruits and thus act as important seed dispercers in the ecosystem they live.


1. Red Lemur on Wikipedia -
2. Red Lemur on The IUCN Red List site -

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