Collared Brown Lemur, Eulemur collaris

The collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris) is native to the island of Madagascar. Its other common names include the red-collared lemur and the red-collared brown lemur.  It can be found in the western forests of Kalambatritra and its northern range extends from the Mananara River to in the south. It can also be found on the Saint Luce Private Reserve, the Mandena Conservation Zone, and in Andohahela National Park. The collared brown lemur is one of 12 species of “true lemurs” and until 2001, was considered a subspecies of the common brown lemur.

The collared brown lemur can have an average body length between 1.2 feet and 1.3 feet, with a tail length of up to 1.8 feet. It is a medium sized lemur, reaching an average weight of up to 5.5 pounds. This species does display a type of sexual dimorphism, called dichromatism, in which males are more brightly colored than females.

The back fur of a male collared brown lemur is burnished grey, while females have a redder color in their back fur. The Front pelage of males is light grey in color, while females have a creamy grey frontal pelage. The face and cheek fur are very different between male and female collared brown lemurs. Males tend to have dark grey to black faces, crowns, and muzzles, while in females the fur is simply grey, although they do have a slightly darker grey stripe running down their nose. Perhaps the biggest variation in color between the sexes is the cheek fur.  Male cheek fur is brightly colored with red, while females display a dull reddish brown color.

In the wild, it is not common to confuse the collared brown lemur with the grey-headed lemur, as their ranges do not overlap. However, in captivity, it is difficult to distinguish between the two. Males of these two species look highly similar, but the collared brown lemur has a cream-colored beard, while the grey-headed lemur has a grey colored beard. There is virtually no difference between females of these species, although genetic testing has proved that they are species distinct from each other.

The collared brown lemur is cathemeral, active at many times throughout the day and night. It spends most of its time in the trees, living an arboreal lifestyle. It is thought that this lemur behaves as such due to its specific dietary needs, but studies have shown that the length of the days, which change seasonally, may cause the lemur’s cathemeral habits. Most likely, the collared brown lemur will consume mainly fruit, and is considered a vital seed disperser within its range.

Although little is known about the collared brown lemur’s lifestyle, it has been found that the lemur prefers to live in groups that contain many male and female members, of up to seven individuals on average. Unlike some lemur species, the social structure and hierarchy of this species is unknown. Females will typically give birth to one baby between the months of October and December, and male involvement with the baby has occurred.

At Berenty, a hybrid type of lemur known as E. fulvus x collaris displays a hierarchy, unlike the collared brown lemur in the wild. Observations have noted that females seem to be dominant within this population, and that each group is capable of displaying reconciliation behaviors.

The collared brown lemur is at risk of habitat loss due to coal production and slash-and-burn agriculture practices within its range. It is also hunted as bushmeat and sold as pets at local markets. Although captive breeding programs have been successful, the collared brown lemur was listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List in 2008.

Image Caption: Collared Brown Lemurs (Eulemur collaris): Adult male and female with infant and one other adult at Nahampoana Reserve in Madagascar. Credit Wikipedia(CC BY 3.0)