Common names are not officially defined. They are based on everyday conversational language and may differ by country, region, profession, community, or other factors. As a result, it is not unusual for a species to have more than one common name.

Scientific names are in Latin and they are written in italics. They are standardized and for everyone, no matter what language you may speak. They are bound by a formal naming system, called binominal nomenclature, that has strict rules. Scientific names prevent misidentification. Those names only change if a species, or its genus, is officially redesignated by experts.

Ring-tailed lemurs are found in the dry forests, spiny bush, montane forest, mangroves, rocky outcrops, and one rainforest in southern and southwestern Madagascar, as well as in one humid forest in southeastern Madagascar.

  • Ring-tailed lemurs are named for their long ringed tails
  • They live in large troops of up to 30 individuals
  • Males compete in “stink wars” for mating rights
  • During peaceful times, they bathe in the sun; a favorite pastime
  This means that there is a high risk that they could become extinct in the wild.

The ring-tailed lemur’s conservation threat has steadily increased over the years, as its population continues to decrease, primarily due to loss of habitat. Slash-and-burn agriculture has transformed key ring-tailed lemur habitats into pastureland for grazing livestock, and forests have been razed for charcoal production. Unsustainable hunting has also had a drastic impact on the population, and capture for the illegal pet trade is another threat.

  1. Although they may look like house cats, lemurs are primates. Intelligent and strong-willed, they are outfitted with formidable teeth that cause a good deal of damage.
  2. Ring-tailed lemurs are LOUD!
  3. To become pets, ring-tailed lemur babies are stolen from their mothers. As a result, they do not develop normally emotionally.
  4. Primates are never domesticated. They always remain wild. 
  5. Caged primates are very unhappy and frustrated. They are likely to resist confinement. They are quick and cause damaging bites and scratches.
  6. In their natural habitat, ring-tailed lemurs live in large social groups. It is cruel to isolate them as pets.
  7. Many locations have strict regulations that prohibit trading in or keeping primates and endangered species are pets.
  8. Ring-tailed lemurs belong with other lemurs in Madagascar. They and their habitats must be protected, not exploited.

Visit the RING-TAILED LEMUR Primate Species Profile

 Copyright © New England Primate Conservancy 2019. You may freely use and share these learning activities for educational purposes. 
For questions or comments, e-mail us at [email protected].