Red Ruffed Lemur


Red ruffed lemurs are the largest members of the Lemuridae; with both males and females being very similar in size. Slender bodied and long legged, red ruffed lemurs have a narrow, fox-like snout and small ears that are hidden by a ruff of hair. The soft, woolly body fur is a deep rusty red while their extremities, forehead, crown, belly and tail are black. They have a patch of white fur on the nape of the neck and may have additional white patches on the feet, digits or mouth.


Red ruffed lemurs (and all prosimians) lack extensive digit coordination, so they groom themselves and each other with their teeth. A specialized claw on the second toes of their hind feet is used to brush their long, fluffy coat. Red ruffed lemurs have scent glands on their rump used for group identification. They also have acute senses of smell, vision and hearing.

Red ruffed lemurs warn each other with a complex system of at least 12 different vocalizations. These alarm calls can be low grunts, gurgling sounds or a cackle-like roar. Red ruffed lemurs can even recognize the alarm calls of their co-subspecies, the black and white ruffed lemurs. Both subspecies will cooperate in warning the others group.

Did You Know?  

  • Six bottom teeth form what is called the toothcomb, and it is used for grooming.
  • The red ruffed lemur and black-and-white ruffed lemur understand each other's calls, despite living in different parts of Madagascar.
  • The lemur's thick bushy tail serves as a visual signal when it is threatened or as a balancing tool when it leaps through the trees!

Our Animals

Two red ruffed lemurs arrived in 2009 to PPZ.  Sambi, our male, came from sunny Palm Beach Zoo, and our female Joplin is here in Lansing courtesy of the world famous San Diego Zoo.  Both lemurs were captive born.


Scientific Name Varencia variegata rubra
Conservation Status IUCN: Endangered
Size Both male and female red ruffed lemurs range between 43 and 47 inches long, including their bushy tails which may be up to 25 inches! Adults weigh in at 7-10 pounds.
Average Lifespan 15 - 20 years in the wild, while ages of 25 are not uncommon in captivity.
Wild Diet The red ruffed lemur is mainly a fruit-eater, though it is known to eat leaves and shoots. They especially like figs.
Found only in the Masoala Peninsula in Northeastern Madagascar