Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Wild Diet: Seeds, small berries, wild figs, prickly pears, blossoms, leaves, bark, grasses and herbs
Zoo Diet: "Monkey Chow," fruits, vegetables and small amounts of cooked meat
Predators: Predators include hawks, introduced species such as dogs and cats
IUCN Status: Endangered
Habitat/Range: Stony regions, barren mountain ranges and thinly wooded areas in Madagascar.
Characteristics: These lemurs have long tails ringed with black and white bands; gray fur on back of body and a white chest. They have almost a 'Clown-like' mask on their face with the eyes and mouth ringed in black while the rest of the face and ears are white. Hind legs longer than front legs. Protruding nose on small head. Large upper canines. Claw on second toe; other nails flat. Cat-sized.
Behavior: Unlike other lemurs, ring-tails are well adapted for life on the ground. They typically travel on the ground and when in trees, they prefer broad horizontal limbs to thin, less stable branches. The palms and soles of their feet are long, smooth and leather-like for a firm footing on slippery rocks. Their long tail is used for steering and it often held in an S-shape. Males mark their territory by rubbing a specialized scent gland with a sharp horny spur on the inside of the forearm against another gland horny situated above the armpit, thus mingling the secretions. The tail is then drawn down across the forearms so the horny spur combs the fur with the odor. The tail is then arched over the back and moved up and down to send the scent toward an opponent. Only males have armpit glands. Both sexes have wrist glands and glands on their genitals. Females mark by rubbing genital glands onto objects. Females are dominant. Ring-tailed lemurs live in multi-male groups of about 10, but may be as large as 24. No consistent group leadership.
Reproduction: Gestation 120-135 days. All infants in a group will be born at about the same time, August - September. Infants are born with adult coloration. Twins common, weighing 3-4 ounces; carried on the mothers chest by the mother. Mature at 2 1/2 years.
Conservation: The IUCN lists this species as Near Threatened because of a 20-25% decline in their populations over the past 24 years. This decline has occurred mostly due to quality and availability of habitat and some catching of young for the pet trade. If this decline continues, they may soon be considered threatened.