Lemurs are primates a group that includes monkeys, apes and humans. Lemur is a small furred animal. The name lemur is applied to many animals including true lemurs dwarf lemurs mouse lemurs weasel lemurs and the flying lemur. The name lemur is also sometimes applied to certain other animals including the aye-aye and the indri. Lemurs live in Madagascar and the nearby Comoro islands.
Body :- They have slender bodies covered with soft thick fur that varies in color and markings. Most lemurs are reddish brown gray or black. The ring tailed lemur or Madagascar cat is brownish gray on its back and its tail is ringed with black and white. The fork marked lemur is reddish or brownish gray with black streaks from its eyes to the top of its head where they join to form a stripe down its back. The greater weasel lemur is brown or gray on its back and has white or yellow underparts.
Lemurs vary widely in size. The smallest are the dwarf lemurs and mouse lemurs about five inches long the largest is the ruffed lemur about 24 inches long. Lemurs’ tails are as long as or longer than their bodies. Lemurs have nails on all fingers and toes except the second toe which has a claw.
Most lemurs live in trees leaping nimbly from branch to branch. They are frequently heard making shrill or grunting noises. Some are active during the day others at night. They feed mainly on vegetation but some also eat honey insects and birds. Most lemurs live in groups. Lemurs typically give birth in a tree hollow lined with a nest of leaves. A lemur produces one to four young once or twice a year.
Habitat :- The island of Madagascar a country located about 250 miles off the coast of southeast Africa is one of the most geographically diverse places on the planet. Its terrain varies from beautiful coastal beaches and stretches of serene grassland to raging rivers winding through mountainous regions and dry expanses of desert. The island has a tropical climate with a rainy season lasting from December to April and a dry season lasting from May to November. Madagascar is also home to some of the most unique and endangered plants and animals in the world. The lemur is one of these creatures.
Madagascar separated from Africa by hundreds of kilometers before the evolution of lemurs these primates crossed over from Africa by floating on large bunches of vegetation. Once they settled on the island they became reproductively isolated and free from the threat of other primates. In fact the only reason they still survive there today is because of Madagascar’s isolation.
Today there are nearly 88 species of lemurs living in Madagascar. All lemurs are endangered species. Humans not only have hunted lemurs but have also destroyed their habitats through deforestation.
COURTESY THE HINDU YOUNG WORLD