Red-bellied Lemur
The Red-bellied Lemur is a medium sized prosimian
Prosimians are a grouping of mammals defined as being primates, but not monkeys or apes. They include, among others, lemurs, bushbabies, and tarsiers. They are considered to have characteristics that are more primitive than those of monkeys and apes. Prosimians are the only primates native to...

 with a luxuriant chestnut brown coat. This lemur
Lemurs are a clade of strepsirrhine primates endemic to the island of Madagascar. They are named after the lemures of Roman mythology due to the ghostly vocalizations, reflective eyes, and the nocturnal habits of some species...

 is endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 to eastern Madagascan
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s and is distinguished by patches of white skin below the eye
Eyes are organs that detect light and convert it into electro-chemical impulses in neurons. The simplest photoreceptors in conscious vision connect light to movement...

s, giving rise to a "teardrop" effect, particularly conspicuous in the male
Male refers to the biological sex of an organism, or part of an organism, which produces small mobile gametes, called spermatozoa. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female gamete or ovum, in the process of fertilization...


The species, first identified in the year 1850, exhibits diurnal
Diurnal animal
Diurnality is a plant or animal behavior characterized by activity during the day and sleeping at night.-In animals:Animals that are not diurnal might be nocturnal or crepuscular . Many animal species are diurnal, including many mammals, insects, reptiles and birds...

 behaviour and marked sexual dichromism. The Red-bellied Lemur has been studied extensively since the mid 1980s, primarily in Ranomafana National Park. This lemur species is designated as vulnerable
Vulnerable species
On 30 January 2010, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified 9694 Vulnerable species, subspecies and varieties, stocks and sub-populations.-References:...

 according to the IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species , founded in 1963, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature is the world's main authority on the conservation status of species...

, due to threats endangering habitats from slash-and-burn agriculture
Slash and burn
Slash-and-burn is an agricultural technique which involves cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields. It is subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology or other tools. It is typically part of shifting cultivation agriculture, and of transhumance livestock...

 in Madagascar.


Being sexually dichromatic, the male of the species exhibits a medium-long dense dorsal
Dorsum (biology)
In anatomy, the dorsum is the upper side of animals that typically run, fly, or swim in a horizontal position, and the back side of animals that walk upright. In vertebrates the dorsum contains the backbone. The term dorsal refers to anatomical structures that are either situated toward or grow...

 coat of intense chestnut brown. Ventrally he is lighter and redder in hue, while his tail, muzzle
The snout, or muzzle, is the protruding portion of an animal's face, consisting of its nose, mouth, and jaw.-Terminology:The term "muzzle", used as a noun, can be ambiguous...

 and head are black. For the female, the dorsal area and tail resemble the male, whereas the ventral fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

 is a contrasting white-cream colour. Facial markings are similar to the male, except that "tear drops" are less exaggerated and spiry thick cheek
Cheeks constitute the area of the face below the eyes and between the nose and the left or right ear. They may also be referred to as jowls. "Buccal" means relating to the cheek. In humans, the region is innervated by the buccal nerve...

Hair is a filamentous biomaterial, that grows from follicles found in the dermis. Found exclusively in mammals, hair is one of the defining characteristics of the mammalian class....

s of the male are absent. Whereas the Eulemur genus relatives may exhibit ear tuft
In the aviation field, the term tuft refers to a strip of yarn or string of varying length attached to an aircraft surface in a grid pattern and imaged during flight. The motion of these tufts during flight can be observed and recorded in order to locate flow features such as boundary layer...

s or a furry beard, these features are absent for Eulemur rubriventer, which has thickened fur around its ears, lending a fuller facial appearance.

The adult Red-bellied Lemur has a length of 34 to 40 cm (13.4 to 15.7 in) (excluding tail) and a tail length which is almost twenty percent longer than the body itself; that is, body plus tail length may attain a total length of almost one meter. Typical body mass of a mature individual ranges from 1.6 to 2.4 kg (3.5 to 5.3 lb). The male has scent glands atop his head. Lifespans may easily exceed twenty years for both sexes.

Range and distribution

Eulemur rubriventer occurs as far north as the Tsaratanana
Tsaratanana is a town and commune in Madagascar. It belongs to the district of Tsaratanana, which is a part of Betsiboka Region. The population of the commune was estimated to be approximately 18,000 in 2001 commune census....

 Massif at an elevation of 2400 metres (7,874 ft), and thence southerly to the Manampatrana
Manampatrana is a town and commune in Madagascar. It belongs to the district of Ikongo, which is a part of Vatovavy-Fitovinany Region. The population of the commune was estimated to be approximately 18,000 in 2001 commune census....

 River in a narrow strip of eastern Madagascar rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

. In previous eras the range extended further south to the Mananara River. This species is distributed thinly and is restricted only to intact rainforest; it does not occur at all on the Masolala Peninsula.

The Red-bellied Lemur is sympatric with four other Eulemur species: in the extreme north of its range, the White-headed Lemur
White-headed Lemur
The white-headed lemur , also known as the white-headed brown lemur, white-fronted brown lemur, or white-fronted lemur, is a species of primate in the Lemuridae family. It is only found in north-eastern Madagascar...

 E. albifrons; at mid-range, the Common Brown Lemur
Common Brown Lemur
The common brown lemur , or brown lemur, is a species of lemur in the Lemuridae family. It is found in Madagascar and Mayotte.-Range:...

 E. fulvus; and in its southern range, the Red-fronted Brown Lemur E. rufus and the Gray-headed Lemur
Gray-headed Lemur
The gray-headed lemur , or gray-headed brown lemur, is a medium-sized primate, a cathemeral species of lemur in the Lemuridae family. Until a taxonomic revision in 2008, it was known as the white-collared brown lemur or white-collared lemur . It lives in south-eastern Madagascar...

 E. cinereiceps. E. rubriventer is however easily distinguished from these relatives by the male's distinctive white eye "tear drops" and the rich darkness of the fur of both sexes. A distinction of appearance occurs within E. rubriventer in that northern range males (e.g. Mantadia National Park north) have a more distinctive reddish belly than the southern range counterparts, as in Ranomafana National Park.

The forest type within the Red-bellied Lemur's range is characterized by dense evergreen vegetation, with a canopy of 25 to 35 m (82 to 114.8 ft). Typical canopy species include Dalbergia
Dalbergia is a large genus of small to medium-size trees, shrubs and lianas in the pea family, Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. The genus has a wide distribution, native to the tropical regions of Central and South America, Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia...

sp., Diospyros
Diospyros is a genus of about 450–500 species of deciduous and evergreen trees. The majority are native to the tropics, with only a few species extending into temperate regions. They are commonly known as ebony or persimmon trees...

sp., Ocotea
Ocotea is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Lauraceae. The genus includes over 200 species of evergreen trees and shrubs, distributed mostly in tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America, the West Indies, also with a few species in Africa and Madagascar, and...

sp., Symphonia
Symphonia (plant)
Symphonia is a genus of tropical woody plants, specifically trees in the family Clusiaceae. The genus has its diversity center in Madagascar and one species disjunct in the Afrotropic and the Neotropic in the Amazon Rainforest.Because of this particular distribution pattern, the origin of the...

sp., and Tambourissa
Tambourissa is a genus of plant in family Monimiaceae. It contains the following species :* Tambourissa cocottensis, Lorence* Tambourissa pedicellata, Baker...

sp.; emergents of Canarium
Canarium is a genus of about 75 species of tropical and subtropical trees in the family Burseraceae, native to tropical Africa, southern Asia, and Australia, from southern Nigeria east to Madagascar, Mauritius, India, southern China, Indonesia and the Philippines...

sp., Albizia
Albizia is a genus of about 150 species of mostly fast-growing subtropical and tropical trees and shrubs in the subfamily Mimosoideae of the legume family, Fabaceae. The genus is pantropical, occurring in Asia, Africa, Madagascar, Central, South, and southern North America and Australia, but mostly...

sp., and Brochoneura acuminata are also present. The eastern lowland forests also have a rich diversity of Pandanus
Pandanus is a genus of monocots with about 600 known species. They are numerous palmlike dioecious trees and shrubs native of the Old World tropics and subtropics. They are classified in the order Pandanales, family Pandanaceae.-Overview:...

sp., bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

, and epiphytic orchid species.


The Red-bellied Lemur aggregates in monogamous groups ranging from two to ten individuals. It is one of the few lemurs to be recognized as cathemeral
A cathemeral organism is one that has sporadic and random intervals of activity during the day or night in which food is acquired, socializing with other organisms occurs, and any other activities necessary for livelihood are performed...

, having both diurnal
Diurnal animal
Diurnality is a plant or animal behavior characterized by activity during the day and sleeping at night.-In animals:Animals that are not diurnal might be nocturnal or crepuscular . Many animal species are diurnal, including many mammals, insects, reptiles and birds...

 and nocturnal activity patterns. The home range is estimated to be 25 to 35 acre
The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.The acre is related...

s (10 to 14 ha
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

) with a typical density of five animals per acre. Groups are typically cohesive as they move within their home range, foraging on over thirty species of plants. Considered by some to be a frugivore
A frugivore is a fruit eater. It can be any type of herbivore or omnivore where fruit is a preferred food type. Because approximately 20% of all mammalian herbivores also eat fruit, frugivory is considered to be common among mammals. Since frugivores eat a lot of fruit they are highly dependent...

, it also feeds on leaves, nectar and flowers of many plant species; this lemur is believed to be a useful and efficient seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...


A typical and maximum frequency of births is one offspring per female per year, with initial year infant mortality at about fifty percent. Births normally occur in October and November (early summer in this southern hemisphere habitat). The young use their prehensile instinct
Instinct or innate behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism toward a particular behavior.The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a...

s in order to attach to the mother and father alternately for the first 33 to 37 days of life. At this point the mother often refuses further transport services, whilst the father may continue to provide such for another nine weeks.

Nomenclature and current events

There are various Malagasy
Malagasy language
Malagasy is the national language of Madagascar, a member of the Austronesian family of languages. Most people in Madagascar speak it as a first language as do some people of Malagasy descent elsewhere.-History:...

A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

 names for the Red-bellied Lemur including tongo, tagona, halomena, kirioka and soamiera. In the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 scientific literature (Madagascar’s second official language is French, due to prior colonisation by France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

) the species is called Lémur à ventre rouge.

Modern feeding habits have expanded the species' diet to the introduced "Chinese" (actually Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian) guava
Guavas are plants in the myrtle family genus Psidium , which contains about 100 species of tropical shrubs and small trees. They are native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America...

 (Psidium littorale). Groups of the Red-bellied Lemur have become somewhat habituated to humans along certain trail areas in Ramomafana National Park (around Blue Vue) starting in May and June, and much rarer in some lower trail areas of Montadia National Park starting in April. In both instances the species exhibits a tame behaviour to approaching humans who are silent and walk softly. The animals will descend from the trees to within two or three meters staring back at the humans with equal curiosity allowing themselves to be photographed as they cling to vertical trunks of saplings, and occasionally engaging in a terrestrial
Terrestrial animal
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land , as compared with aquatic animals, which live predominantly or entirely in the water , or amphibians, which rely on a combination of aquatic and terrestrial habitats...


Eulemur rubriventer occurs in five national parks and seven special reserves in eastern Madagascar, but is classified as Vulnerable (IUCN Red List) due to ongoing habitat reduction from slash-and-burn farming, illegal logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

 and even hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

. The species is the subject of current study in its natural habitat as well as in captivity in research centers such as the Duke Lemur Center
Duke Lemur Center
The Duke Lemur Center is an sanctuary for rare and endangered prosimian primates, located at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. It is the largest sanctuary for prosimian primates in the world....


External links

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