Ring-Tailed Lemur

Lemur catta

ring tailed lemur


South-west Madagascar


Scrub, spiny desert and forest


Fruit, leaves, flowers and insects


4 ½ months, usually one offspring born (although twins are not uncommon)


15-20 years in the wild, 30+ in captivity


Potential predators include raptors, snakes and introduced dogs and cats

Conservation Status:

Near threatened


Lemurs are only found on the island of Madagascar. The ring-tailed lemur is the most terrestrial (ground dwelling) of all the lemurs, and is easily recognisable by its black and white striped tail.

They are very social and are usually seen in groups of 12-20 individuals. The females are dominant within these groups, winning all disputes with males.

The groups are very territorial, patrolling their home range on foot. Both males and females mark their territory by rubbing their scent on trees to warn others to keep out. The males often engage in stink fights. They rub scent from their wrist glands onto their tails, then stand face to face with their opponent, waving their tails like black and white flags.

Grooming is an important activity used to reinforce social bonds. Ring-tailed lemurs sit on their hunches to eat, gripping food with their hands (they have opposable thumbs, nails and palms just like we do) and tipping their heads back so that the juices of the fruits run into their mouth and not down their fur!

The rainforests of Madagascar are being cut down to make way for agriculture, timber and housing. This reduces the amount of suitable habitat available for the lemurs. They are also hunted and kept as pets.

Get up close to our ring-tailed lemurs with a Face2Face or Eye2Eye encounter.

At Hamilton Zoo:

Our ring-tailed lemur group is a firm favourite of our visitors. We have 15 ring-tailed lemurs here at the Zoo, five males and 10 females. They share the enclosure with the two black and white ruffed lemurs males Mikaly and Ankoto.

Young (female) - 1991
Bruce - 5 October 1991
Cinderella - 8 September 1997
Yolanda - 27 September 1998
Yetta -22 September 2000
Rachel - 4 September 2002
Buffalo Bill - 12 May 2010
Chaos - 20 March 2011
Zeus - 22 March 2011
Noelle - 25 December 2011
Kintana - 17 October 2012

These four youngsters were the latest born here at the zoo:
Zanaki - 9 October 2015
Harena - 10 October 2015
Amara - 7 Novemberr 2015
Maizine - 7 November 2015