Red Lemur, Eulemur rufus

The red lemur (Eulemur rufus) is native only to the island of Madagascar. Its other common names include the northern red-fronted lemur and the rufous brown lemur. Its southwestern range extends from the Betsiboka River in the north to the Tsiribihina River in the south. It prefers a habitat within arid deciduous forests.

In 2008, the red lemur and the red-fronted lemur were separated, creating two distinct species. The red lemur makes up the population northwestern Madagascar, while the red-fronted lemur makes up the populations in eastern and southwestern Madagascar. This split was a result of genetic testing that showed that the red lemur was distinct from the red-fronted lemur, which is more closely related to other lemurs such as the common brown lemur.

The body length of the red lemur can reach an average of up to nineteen inches, with the tail reaching up to twenty-two inches. It typically weighs between 4.9 and 5.1 pounds. The crown of this lemur is red in color, while the fur on its body is grey in color. The forehead and muzzle are black, and the color of the cheek fur and beard differs between sexes. In females, the cheek fur is usually thinner and redder in color, while in males the cheek fur is thicker and beige or white in color. The coloring of the fur is very similar to that of the red-fronted lemur.

The IUCN Red List categorizes the red lemur as “Data Deficient” because there is little information on its populations and habits. Studies conducted on previous subspecies of the red lemur do not aid in giving the red lemur a conservation status because they have been re-classified as subspecies of the red-fronted lemur. However, it is thought that with more information, the red lemur could be given a conservation status of either “Near Threatened” or “Vulnerable” due to the threats of habitat destruction and hunting that are now moving into its range.

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