Lemurs are an unusual group of monkey-like animals that, like us, are primates. There are 105 species of lemurs, and all of them are native to the island of Madagascar and the nearby Comoro Islands, off the eastern coast of Africa. Many people find them interesting. Indeed they are, but unfortunately, they are among the most endangered mammals on Earth. They are teetering close to the brink of extinction because of overgrazing, deforestation, and hunting.
Interesting Lemur Facts
This unusual group of animals has a number of distinctive characteristics, probably because they developed in relative isolation from other mammals on the island home. Here are a few of the interesting items:
- Scientists tell us they are “Prosimian Primates“, meaning they are a primitive type of primate that is neither an ape or a monkey
- Many of the 105 species have small and decreasing numbers
- There were once lemurs as big as gorillas, but they are now extinct
- Other than humans, they are the only mammals that can have blue eyes
- They are strictly herbivores
- Like dogs, lemurs have wet noses
In their native Madagascar, they can live in a variety of habitats, including forests, wetlands and mountainous regions. They are very social animals, living in troops of 6 to as many as 30 individuals. The most common lemur is the rig-tail lemur, whose troops are headed by a dominant female.
Many lemurs, especially smaller species, are nocturnal. Larger species tend to be more active during the day. They like to spend most of their time in trees.
Where to See Lemurs
Of course, the best place to see lemurs is in their natural habitat on the island of Madagascar. For most of us, that is a long way off. You can observe lemurs Orlando FL and in other parts of the US at zoos and wild animal parks.