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Red ruffed lemur

The red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra) is one of two species in the genus Varecia, the ruffed lemurs; the other is the black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata). Like all lemurs, it is native to Madagascar and occurs only in the rainforests of Masoala, in the northeast of the island. It is one of the largest primates of Madagascar with a body length of 53 cm, a tail length of 60 cm and a weight of 3.3–3.6 kg. Its soft, thick fur is red and black in colour and sports a buff or cream colored spot at the nape, but a few are known to have a white or pink patch on the back of the limbs or digits and a ring on the base of the tail in a similar color.

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The red ruffed lemurs are capable of producing a wide range of vocalizations to communicate a variety of emotions or information between individuals, groups, predators, competitors, potential mates and more. There are at least ten calls that researchers are sure about today. Those are the Bray, Chatter, Growl, Growl-Snort, Grunt, Mew, Pulsed Squawk, Roar-Shriek Chorus, Squeal, and the Sniff (Hudson 2013). The black-and-white ruffed lemurs have a vocal repertoire consisting of 13-16 call types depending on which research you read (Pereira et al. 1985 and Morland 1991). The calls of the black-and-white ruffed lemur and the red ruffed lemur sound incredibly similar, but primatologists found the loud calls (the roar-shriek chorus, abrupt roar, and pulsed squawk) of two could be distinguished using computer software (Macedonia 1985). The pulse rates, durations, and frequencies of these calls differed significantly depending on the species. The hybrid ruffed lemur's vocalizations were intermediate forms of both other species. Several primatologists believe the meanings of the vocalizations of captive ruffed lemurs do not differ from those of wild ruffed lemurs (Gamba and Giacoma 2007). This claim does not fit with the evidence provided in the existing literature for black-and-white lemurs (compare Moreland 1991 to Periera et al 198 ) nor does it fit with the evidence collected on the red ruffed lemurs (Hudson 2013). Works Cited: Gamba, Marco and Cristina Giacoma. 2007 Quantitative acoustic analysis of the vocal repertoires of the crowned lemur. Ethology, Ecology, and Evolution 19: 323-43. Hudson, Daphne. 2013 The Recording and Analysis of a Behavioral Vocal Repertoire for the Red Ruffed Lemur, Varecia rubra. Unpublished undergraduate thesis. Morland, Hilary S. 1991 Social organization and ecology of the black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata variegata) in lowland rainforest, Nosy Mangambe, Madagascar. Ph.D. Dissertation, Yale University. Pereira, Michael E., Martha L. Seelingson and Joseph M. Macedonia. 1988 The Behavioral Repertoire of the Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur, Varecia variegata variegata (Primates: Lemuridae). Folia Primatologica 51: 1-32.

Contributed by Matilda Magatha Hudson

Red ruffed lemurs (Varecia rubra) are diurnal lemurs that live on the Masoala Peninsula of the island of Madagascar. They are the island's third largest lemur after the Indri (Indri indri) and the silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus). They are 39 to 46 inches long (their tails usually make up at close to half of this length) and weigh seven to eight pounds (Vasey 2006: 321). Researchers today believe they are the earliest genus to branch off the family Lemuridae as they retain several characteristics that are more commonly found in more primitive, nocturnal species. Their faces, ears, hands, feet, tail, and undersides are black while their forearms, forelegs, and backs can be anywhere from an orange blonde to a vivid red. Their necks are covered in a large patch of white fur. They are distinguished from one another by the shades of their coat, missing digits, personalities, and unusual colored markings on their bodies. They are separated from their sister species, the black-and-white ruffed lemur geographically by the Antainambalana River, and hybrids have been observed both in the wild and in captivity (Mittermeier et al. 2006: 322). Ruffed lemurs live in fission-fusion societies. Groups usually have five or six individuals and are multi-male and multi-female (Vasey 2006). These groups defend home ranges usually centered on favorite fruit trees. These ranges are typically 20 to 30 hectares long (2006: 322). When they are not sleeping or eating together, these lemurs spend much of their time alone. This is especially true during the harsher winter months when food is scarce. Males are usually less gregarious than the females in the wild. The ruffed lemurs have the shortest and most taxing gestation period of any lemur: 99 to 106 days (Vasey 1997: 7). They give birth to a maximum of five young and stash them in hollowed trees. This characteristic is reminiscent of more primitive nocturnal lemur species than of the diurnal lemurs. They give birth to a maximum of five young in the dry and warm month of November (1997: 7-8). All lemurs in the group care for the young, regardless of sex. The infants live off their mother’s milk which is high in protein and fat so they may become more independent more quickly (1997: 8). The greatest non-human threats to these large lemurs are snakes, large birds, and the fosa. Sources: Mittermeier, Russell A., William R. Konstant, Frank Hawkins, Edward E. Louis, Olivier Lagrand, Jonah Ratsimbazafy, Rodin Rasoloarison, Jörg U. Ganzhorn, Serge Rajaobelina, Ian Tattersall, David M. Meyers. 2006 Lemurs of Madagascar. 2nd edition. Washington, D.C.: Conservation International. Vasey, Natalie. 1997 Community Ecology and Behavior of Varecia variegata rubra and Lemur fulvus albifrons, on the Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar. PhD Dissertation, Washington University.

Contributed by Matilda Magatha Hudson

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