AVAHIS, SIFAKAS, AND INDRIS – Indriidae

AVAHIS, SIFAKAS, AND INDRIS

AVAHIS, SIFAKAS, AND INDRIS FACTS

This family (also spelled Indridae) includes the indris (INdreez), sifakas (suh-FAH-kuhz), and the avahis (ah-VAH-heez) or woolly lemurs. Head and body length is 10.4 to 20.5 inches (26.4 to 52 centimeters). Weight ranges from 2.2 to 16.1 pounds (1 to 7.3 kilograms). The sifakas and avahis have rather long tails, while the indris have just a stump.

Indriids (members of the Indriidae family) fur color varies. Avahis can be whitish, brownish, or reddish. Indris are black and white. Sifakas are mostly black or dark brown. Fur can be woolly or silky. Contrasting fur colors occur on their backs, eyebrows, top of head, and head ruffs (a fringe of long hairs around the neck). Eye colors include golden brown, orange, and yellow. Indriid eyes are reflective, like mirrors, increasing their ability to see in dim light.

Indriids’ hind limbs are longer than forelimbs. There are five fingers on each of two forefeet and five toes on each of two hind feet. All toes have nails except the second digit, or toe. This digit has a grooming (or cleaning) claw. Indriids also have a dental toothcomb, or special front teeth, used for fur cleaning.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Indriids are found in Madagascar.

AVAHIS, SIFAKAS, AND INDRIS HABITAT

Indriids live in a wide range of environments, including original forests, disturbed forest fragments, and desert areas with spiny plants.

AVAHIS, SIFAKAS, AND INDRIS DIET

Indriids feed on fruit, leaves, bark, and flowers.

BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION

Groups of avahis and indris have two to six members, usually an adult male and female and their young offspring. Sifakas have groups of up to ten members. Females are dominant, or in charge, in both the sifakas and indris. Little is known about avahis.

Indris and sifakas mate at three to five years old. Little is known about avahis, or woolly lemurs, although they usually have one offspring each time.

Sifakis and indris are diurnal, or active during the day. Avahis are nocturnal, or active at night.

All indriids are vertical clingers, able to climb up and down trees. They can leap long distances between trees. Indris usually stay in trees, while sifakas occasionally travel on the ground.

Scent marking and facial expressions are important means of communication for all the indriids. Vocalizations, or sounds, are also important. Among other sounds, avahis make shrill whistles, sifakas bark, honk, and making sneezing noises, and indris can sound somewhat like a loud clarinet.

INDRIIDS AND PEOPLE

Sifakas and indris are protected in some areas by taboos, or forbidden deeds. Due to their human-like hands and faces, they may be thought of as ancestor spirits, and so should not be harmed.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Six indriids are considered threatened due to loss of habitat occurring from deforestation (tree removal), fire, poaching, and encroaching human populations. The golden-crowned sifaka is considered Critically Endangered, or at an extremely high risk of extinction, dying out.