Lemur coronatus of Madagascar. By Pierre-Yves Babelon | Shutterstock.com
Lemur coronatus of Madagascar. By Pierre-Yves Babelon | Shutterstock.com

There are over 75 different types of lemurs or Madacascan primates (endemic to the island of Madagascar). The crowned lemur is one of them.

It takes its name from the phantoms and spirits in Roman mythology. They are named after them because of the sounds they make to communicate, their bulging and shiny eyes, and their nocturnal ways. Interestingly enough, the smallest primate on Earth is a a type of lemur ( the mouse lemur), and, before man arrived in Madagascar – 2000 years ago – there was a lemur the size of a male gorilla.

They usually feed on fruit and leaves, though some species are specialists. They have five fingers with an opposable thumb and nails instead of claws. They’re excellent jumpers and have pretty long tails, which they use to balance their body. They have a highly developed toe that helps them cling onto tree branches. Contrary to popular belief, lemurs don’t have prehensile tails.

Lemurs have a basal metabolic rate, which means their bodies use only the amount of energy that is strictly necessary for their cells to survive. This allows them to get through the dry seasons, when food and water are scarce. Additionally, some types of lemurs have dormancy periods, similar to hibernation. They have a highly developed sense of smell and a moist nose, unlike other primates, and, although the eyes of most types of lemurs have adapted to see better in the dark, their vision is not great.

Lemurs are social animals that usually live in groups during the day.

Often, lemurs go off on their own at night in search of food. Generally, the smaller species are nocturnal; the larger ones, diurnal. They reproduce seasonally, with some exceptions. Unfortunately, most types of lemurs are on the IUCN list of threatened species; one of them is the crowned lemur, now considered an endangered animal.

Crowned lemurs live in the northern part of the island of Madagascar, in the Ankarana and Montagne d’Ambre national parks, and they prefer dry forests. They are diurnal animals and are often spotted walking on the ground. They live in groups lead by females. Their body and head are a total of 31 to 36 cm long, but, with their tail, their total length is 42 to 51 cm. They weigh almost 2 kg. Male crowned lemurs are a chestnut brown colour, with a dark brown and black areas on the crown of their head, back and limbs. The fur around their face is orange, which is where they get their name from. Females are grey, with grey underparts and an orange crown.

Crowned lemurs (eulemur coronatus). By Pierre-Yves Babelon | Shutterstock.com
Crowned lemurs (eulemur coronatus). By Pierre-Yves Babelon | Shutterstock.com
Crowned lemurEndangered (EN)
Eulemur coronatus31 – 36 cm (12 – 14 in) + 42 – 51 cm (17 – 20 in) tail
Lemuridae2 kg (4.4 lb)
PrimatesUp to 27 years
Mammalia125 days
Unknown, decreasingFruits, leaves and small invertebrates
Tropical dry forests and mid-altitude rainforests.From the tropical dry forests of the Ankarana Reserve to the mid-altitude rainforests of Montagne d’Ambre.
Mom and child Crowned lemur (eulemur coronatus) in their natural environment of Madagascar. By Pierre-Yves Babelon | Shutterstock.com
Mom and child Crowned lemur (eulemur coronatus) in their natural environment of Madagascar. By Pierre-Yves Babelon | Shutterstock.com

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