Animal Info - Mongoose Lemur

(Other Names: Dredrika, Gidro, Komba, Lemur Mangosta, Lémur Mongoz, Maki Mongoz, Mongozmaki)

Eulemur mongoz (Lemur m., Lemur mongoz m.)

Status: Vulnerable


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Density and Range, Minimum Viable Population)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Mongoose Lemur #1 (18 Kb JPEG); Mongoose Lemur #2 (21 Kb JPEG) 

The mongoose lemur is a medium-sized lemur, about the size of a small house cat. Its head and body length is about 35 cm (14"), and it weighs about 2 kg (4.4 lb). It maintains a horizontal body posture and moves quadrupedally

In Madagascar the mongoose lemur is found in dry deciduous forest and secondary forest. In Comoros it is found in humid forest. It is arboreal. During both the wet and the dry seasons, fruit appears to dominate the mongoose lemur diet. In the wet season, it is also known to feed on fresh flowers, particularly those from the kapok tree. In addition, the mongoose lemur is extremely fond of nectar. More so than other lemurs, the mongoose lemur is active at different times of the day, depending on the season. During the wet months (December to April) there is considerably more diurnal and/or crepuscular (evening) activity. With the onset of the dry season in May, there is a shift towards nocturnal behavior. 

Mongoose lemurs live in small family groups consisting of a monogamous adult pair and 1 - 4 of their immature offspring. Social bonds within these family units appear to be strong, with groups being very cohesive during feeding, traveling, resting and sleeping. Home ranges are small and there is often overlap with the range of another group.  Neighboring groups encounter each other rarely, but when they do, the encounters are marked by aggressive vocalizations, much scent marking and physical charges and threats.

The mongoose lemur has always been uncommon. Its natural range is restricted to northwest Madagascar. It has also been introduced to Comoros, where populations occur on the islands of Anjouan and Moheli. 

Major reasons for the decline of the mongoose lemur include the destruction of its forest habitat due to logging and agriculture, hunting for food, and persecution due to its alleged raids on crops. The dry deciduous forests of northwestern Madagascar continue to be cleared to create pastureland and produce charcoal. This loss of habitat is the primary threat to the survival of the mongoose lemur, but it is also hunted for food throughout much of its range. In addition, it is occasionally trapped for the pet trade. In Comoros, the mongoose lemur faces similar threats.


Tidbits

*** It has been illegal to kill mongoose lemurs in Comoros since 1974, but few Comoriens are aware of this (Reason & Trewhella 1994).


Status and Trends

IUCN Status

  • 1960's: Indeterminate
  • 1970's - 1980's: Vulnerable
  • 1994: Endangered
  • 1996 - 2004: Vulnerable (Criteria: A1c, C2a) (Population Trend: Decreasing) (IUCN 2004)

Countries Where the Mongoose Lemur Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Madagascar and Comoros: Mwali (Moheli) & Nzwani (Anjouan). (IUCN 2004)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

The mongoose lemur has always been uncommon. Its natural range is restricted to northwest Madagascar, from the region west of the Mahavavy River (in the vicinity of Mitsinjo) to somewhere north of Boriziny, but south of Antsohihy. It has also been introduced to Comoros, where populations occur on the islands of Anjouan and Moheli. (Mittermeier et al. 1994, Garbutt 1999)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Major reasons for the decline of the mongoose lemur include the destruction of its forest habitat due to logging and agriculture, hunting for food, and persecution due to its alleged raids on crops. The dry deciduous forests of northwestern Madagascar continue to be cleared to create pastureland and produce charcoal. This loss of habitat is the primary threat to the survival of the mongoose lemur, but it is also hunted for food throughout much of its range. In addition, it is occasionally trapped for the pet trade. In Comoros, the mongoose lemur faces similar threats. (Garbutt 1999, Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2004)


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The head and body length of the mongoose lemur is 32 - 37 cm (13 - 15"), and its tail is 47 - 51 cm (19 - 20") long. It weighs 2 - 2.2 kg (4.4 - 4.8 lb). (Macdonald 2001)

Habitat:

In Madagascar, the mongoose lemur is found in dry deciduous forest and secondary forest. In Comoros it is found in humid forest. (Garbutt 1999)

The mongoose lemur lives in both the Madagascar & Indian Ocean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005) and the Madagascar Dry Forests Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Age to Maturity:

Adult size and coloration is attained between 14 - 16 months (Garbutt 1999). Sexual maturity is attained at 2.5 - 3.5 years (Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2004).

Gestation Period:

128 days (Rowe 1996).

Birth Season:

The young are born around October - November (Garbutt 1999)

Birth Rate:

Single infants are typical, but twinning occurs rarely (Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2004). Females seem capable of giving birth each year (Garbutt 1999)

Early Development:

An infant mongoose lemur clings to its mother's belly for the first 3 weeks, shifting only to nurse. At approximately 5 weeks of age, the young lemur will take its first steps away from its mother. At this point, the infant begins to taste solid food, sampling bits of whatever the other members of its group are eating. Nursing continues, in a steady decline in importance in the infant’s diet, until the infant is weaned at approximately 5 - 6 months of age. (Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2004)

Diet:

During both the wet and the dry seasons, fruit appears to dominate the mongoose lemur diet. In the wet season, it is also known to feed on flowers, particularly those from the Kapok tree. In addition, the mongoose lemur is extremely fond of nectar. During the dry season, the mongoose lemur turns to mature and immature leaves for nourishment. It has also been observed to feed on the occasional beetle and insect grub. (Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2004)

Behavior:

The mongoose lemur is arboreal. More so than other lemurs, the mongoose lemur is active at different times of the day, depending on the season. It appears to be cathemeral throughout the wet and dry seasons. However, during the warm, wet months (December to April) there is considerably more diurnal and/or crepuscular (evening) activity. With the onset of the dry season in May, there is a shift towards nocturnal behavior and the lemur eventually becomes most active at night. At this time groups travel and feed between dusk and around 2200 hours, then rest for 2 - 4 hours before resuming foraging activity. This continues until just before dawn when the groups return to their sleep sites in dense foliage or tangled vines at the tops of trees. (Garbutt 1999, Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2004)

Social Organization:

Mongoose lemurs live in small family groups consisting of a monogamous adult pair and 1 - 4 of their immature offspring. Social bonds within these family units appear to be strong, with groups being very cohesive during feeding, traveling, resting and sleeping. As is true of most lemur species, females are usually dominant over males, taking preferential access to food and the choice of with whom to mate.  At sexual maturity (2.5 - 3.5 years old), offspring are encouraged to leave the family group by the parents.  Home ranges are small and there is often overlap with the range of another group.  Neighboring groups encounter each other rarely, but when they do, the encounters are marked by aggressive vocalizations, much scent marking and physical charges and threats. (Curtis & Zarmody 1998, Garbutt 1999, Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2004) 

Density and Range:

Home range: 0.5 - 1 hectare (1.3 - 2.5 acres) (Rowe 1996)

Minimum Viable Population:

Minimum viable population density: 350 individuals/sq km (910 individuals/sq mi) (Silva & Downing 1994).


References

Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl. 2005, Curtis & Zarmody 1998, Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr. 2004, Garbutt 1999, IUCN 1969, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Macdonald 1984, Macdonald 2001, Madagascar Fauna Group, Mittermeier et al. 1994, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Primate Info Net, Reason & Trewhella 1994, Rowe 1996, Silva & Downing 1994


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