SPORTIVE LEMURS – Lepilemuridae

SPORTIVE LEMURS

SPORTIVE LEMURS FACTS

Sportive lemurs, also called weasel lemurs, have a head and body length of 9.8 to 13.8 inches (25.0 to 35.0 centimeters). Tail length is 9.8 to 12 inches (25 to 30.5 centimeters). The tail may be shorter or longer than the body, depending on species. Body weight is 1.1 to 2.2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilograms).

Sportive lemurs have short, pointed heads with large round ears. They have binocular vision, they’re are able to see with both eyes at the same time. In the mouth, lower front teeth are joined and tilted forward. This dental-comb is a grooming, or fur-cleaning aid. Sportive fur is woolly and dense. All sportive lemurs have very long, strong hind limbs. They are much longer than the forelimbs, or front legs.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Sportive lemurs live only on the island of Madagascar, which is off the east coast of Africa.

BIOMES

Evergreen forests, where the trees stay green all year, and hot, dry forests.

SPORTIVE LEMURS HABITAT

Most sportive lemurs live in forested areas, ranging from evergreen rainforests to hot dry forests.

SPORTIVE LEMURS HABITAT

Sportive lemurs feed mostly on leaves. Sportive lemurs may also eat flowers, bark, and fruit. They are different from other lemurs in being able to feed on difficult-todigest food, such as cactus-like leaves. When these partially digested leaves are eliminated as waste, in order not to waste any nutrition remaining, the sportive lemurs will eat this waste. Basically, they digest everything twice. This process is called cecotrophy (SEE-cuh-troh-fee), and is present in other animals, but not in other lemurs.

BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION

Sportive lemurs are nocturnal, moving about at night. They often gather in groups between the hours of twilight and darkness before moving on to their separate feeding territories, or areas. During the day, they sleep curled up in a ball within a hollow tree, in thick leafy areas, or among vines. They may use the same nesting area for several years. In the afternoon, they tend to stick their heads out of their hiding place, either watching their surroundings or napping.

Sportive lemurs have powerful, long, hind legs. They move by leaping from tree trunk to tree trunk, then clinging onto the tree trunk. Sportive lemurs may leap as far as 13 feet (4 meters) at a time. Large pads on their hands and feet help with holding on to tree trunks. They are also able to run on all four limbs, or hop on their two hind limbs. They can do this on tree branches or on the ground.

Male sportive lemurs often live alone. A mother and her children stay together. A male’s territory includes that of several females. Males, and sometimes females, defend their territories from other sportive lemurs of the same sex by vocalizations, or sounds, body actions, chasing, or, if that doesn’t succeed, fighting.

Mating occurs at about eighteen months. Males will visit several females for mating purposes. Females are pregnant for four and a half months. One infant is born each year. Mothers may carry their young in their mouth as they leap from tree to tree, or leave them clinging onto branches while the mother hunts for food. At about one month the young start seeking food on their own. The young remain with the mother for about a year, until the next baby is born.

SPORTIVE LEMURS AND PEOPLE

Sportive lemurs are hunted for food.

CONSERVATION STATUS

All seven species of sportive lemur are listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) due to loss of forest habitat, or living spaces. This is due to slash-and-burn agriculture, where forests are burned to clear land for people’s homes and farms. Cattle and goat overgrazing also destroys habitat. Two species are Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction, and five are Near Threatened, not currently threatened, but could become so.