Red-fronted Lemur, Eulemur rufifrons

The red-fronted lemur (Eulemur rufifrons) is also known as the southern red-fronted brown lemur or the red-fronted brown lemur. It is native only to the island of Madagascar.  The red-fronted lemur’s range includes the western coast and eastern Madagascar. Its western range extends from the Tsiribihina River in the north to the Fiheranana River in the south. Its eastern range extends from the Mangoro and Onive Rivers to the Andringitra Massif.

The red-fronted lemur was not considered a distinct species until 2001, when E. fulvus, or the common brown lemur, was split into many different species. The red fronted lemur was classified as a subspecies of Eulemur rufus, or the red lemur. In 2008, the red lemur was split into different species, finally giving the red-fronted lemur its classification as a distinct species. The red-fronted lemur makes up the populations south of the Tsiribihina River on the western coast of Madagascar and eastern Madagascar, while the red lemur makes up the population north of the Tsiribihina River.

The red-fronted lemur can have an average body length of up to nineteen inches, with a tail length of up to twenty-two inches. It can weigh as much as 5.1 pounds. Typically, the pelage of this lemur is grey in color, with cheek fur color varying between sexes. In males, the cheek fur is usually white or beige in color while females display cheek fur that is redder in color. Both sexes have entirely black faces and a black line running from the forehead to the chin, with white eyebrows.

The red-fronted lemur prefers a habitat within dry lowland forests with home ranges typically depending on the location of the habitat. In its western portion, the red-fronted lemur tends to have larger populations and smaller home ranges than the eastern populations. Each group can have between eight or nine individuals on average, although groups of up to eighteen have occurred. There have been no confirmed cases of any kind of dominance hierarchy among the groups.

The diet of the eastern red-fronted lemurs consists of fruits, seeds, leaves, nectar, and flowers. In western populations, the diet contains more leaves than any other type of food. The habits of the red-fronted lemur vary between locations as well. In the western portion of its range, this lemur tends to be diurnal, or active during the day, and nocturnal during the dry seasons, while eastern populations do not show the same behaviors.

Reproduction behaviors are also different between eastern and western populations of the red-fronted lemur, although breeding does take place seasonally for both. In western populations, one male tends to “monopolize” the females within a group, but this does not occur as often within the eastern populations.  The conservation status of the red-fronted lemur is “Near Threatened”.

Image Caption: Red Lemur (Eulemur fulvus rufus) in Isalo National Park, Madagascar. Credit: Bernard Gagnon/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)