Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur

(Varecia variegata)


Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur IUCN CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR)


Facts about this animal

The head-body length of an adult ruffed lemur is about 55-60 cm with a tail equally as long. Body-weight ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 kgs. The fur is thick, soft and fairly long (ruffed). There is a lot of variation in the amount of black and white fur from animal to animal. But in general, the tail, hands, feet, shoulder, face, and top of the head are black; the back, rump, hind legs, and ears are white. Ruffed lemurs are sociable, living in groups of 2 to 16 animals.


They reach sexual maturity at the age of two years. Females give usually birth to twins or triplets, sometimes up to six infants at a time, which they place in a nest. The youngsters stay in the nest for several weeks. Infants don't cling to their mother. When the mother moves them (she changes nest sites regularly), she carries her babies in her mouth. The maximum life span in the wild is 15-20 years. In the wild, ruffed lemurs spend most of their time in the forest canopy. They show definite preferences for larger trees, from two to four feet in diameter.


Logging of the mature trees in a particular forest may lead to the local extinction of the species. Because logging for cooking fuel and building materials, as well as slash-and-burn farming, has reduced Madagascar's forests by as much as 85%, and because they are also hunted for foood, the ruffed lemurs have become endangered.

Did you know?
That a 40-foot-high tree known as the traveller's palm (Arbre du voyageur, Baum der Reisenden, Árbol del viajero - Ravenala madagascariensis) probably owes its existence to the black and white ruffed lemur, thought to be the plant's main pollinator? As the lemur sticks its long snout and tongue deep inside a tree's flower, it collects pollen on its muzzle and fur, and then transports it to the next flower.


Name (Scientific) Varecia variegata
Name (English) Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur
Name (French) Lémur vari ou Maki vari ou Lémur à crinière
Name (German) Schwarzweisser Vari
Name (Spanish) Lemur rufo blanco y negro
Local names Malagasy: Varikandra
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Madagascar
Habitat Evergreen rain forests
Wild population Between 1,000 and 10,000 and the numbers are decreasing (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population More than 800 animals. There are an International Studbook under the auspices of WAZA and conservation breeding programmes in Europe (ESP) and North America (SSP)

In the Zoo

Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 31 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

Black-and-white lemurs are very popular with the general public and are thus excellent ambassadors for their cousins in the wild. In particular they help in promoting and raising funds for the Project Betampona (WAZA Project Nr. 05015). In addition, zoo-bred black-and-white ruffed lemurs have been released to the wild to reinforce the very small and fragile population at Betampona