Ring Tail Lemur
The conspicuous characteristic for which ring-tailed lemurs are known is their long tail, measuring about 60 cm (23.6 in), that has alternating bands of black and white rings (Mittermeier et al. 1994). The rest of their bodies are light reddish gray to dark red-brown with light gray to dark brown rumps and light gray to gray-brown limbs. They have white undersides, hands, and feet. They have white faces with dark brown or black triangular eye patches that look like a mask around their light brown eyes and they have black muzzles. Their ears are white and angular, similar to a cat’s. Male ring-tailed lemurs have darkly colored scent glands on the inside of their wrists with a spur-like fingernail, usually referred to as a horny spur, overlay on each. Males also have scent glands on their chests, just above the collarbone and close to the armpit. Both male and female ring-tailed lemurs have anogenital scent glands (Mittermeier et al. 1994; Rowe 1996; Groves 2001; Palagi et al. 2004). Males and females are about the same size, in the wild measuring about 42.5 cm (1.39 ft) from head to rump and weighing between 2207 and 2213 g (4.87 and 4.89 lb), on average (Mittermeier et al. 1994; Sussman 2000). In captivity, ring-tailed lemurs weigh slightly more than their wild counterparts with males weighing, on average, 2705 g (5.96 lb) and females average 2678 g (5.90 lb) (Kappeler 1991). Ring-tailed lemurs share unique dental characteristics with other members of the Superfamily Lemuroidea; they have specialized teeth in their lower jaw that form a dental comb. These long, narrow teeth project nearly straight forward from the jaw and this specialized dentition is thought to aid in grooming (Swindler 2002),
Ring-tailed lemurs are the most terrestrial of all lemurs, but they spend time in all layers of the forest. They move by walking or running quadrupedally, holding their tails almost completely vertically as they move, with the tip of the long tail curving away from the body forming the shape of a question mark (Mittermeier et al. 1994; Jolly 2003).
In the wild, it is rare for female ring-tailed lemurs to live past 16 years of age and the oldest known wild female was between 18 and 20 years old. Male life span is even less well-known, because of the social system, but have been recorded living to at least 15 years of age (Gould et al. 2003; Sauthers pers. comm). In captivity, life span has reached 27 years (Jolly 2003).
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