Lemurs are a group of primates native to Madagascar. These long-tailed, tree-swinging cuties are one of the world’s most endangered mammals; according to a study in 2012, almost all of the lemurs alive today are threatened with extinction.
Lemurs are related to monkeys and apes, just like humans.
All lemurs can be found in Madagascar. There are mongoose lemurs and brown lemurs also living on the nearby Comoros Islands, between Madagascar and Mozambique; however, it is thought that these lemurs were almost certainly introduced to those islands by humans.
Many lemurs only feed on flowers, fruit, sap and tree bark, which makes them herbivores. Some species of lemurs are very picky about what they eat, and most of their diet comes from a few tree species. This also means that lemurs are key to the survival of certain plants and trees on Madagascar because they are the main seed dispersers. This means they help plants reproduce by carrying seeds in their stomach after eating fruit, and then they deposit the seeds into a new area through their feces. Some plants on Madagascar are dependent on a single lemur species to disperse their seeds.
Here are some facts about lemurs.
- There are five individual lemur families and more than 100 different species.
- The smallest lemurs in the world are also the smallest primates in the world. They are Madame Berthe’s mouse lemurs. These lemurs grow to just 3.5 to 4 inches (9 to 11 cm) long, plus another 5-6inches for the tail.
- Blue-eyed black lemurs, known for their striking eyes, are the only primates other than humans to have blue eyes.
- Some animals, such as Sunda flying lemurs from Southeast Asia, have lemur in their name but are not actually lemurs. True lemurs are only found on Madagascar and nearby islands.
- Greater Bamboo Lemurs have a highly specialized diet and only eat a certain kind of bamboo, making them Madagascar’s equivalent of China’s Giant Pandas.