Lemur, Black-and-white Ruffed

Varecia variegata variegata

The long, dense fur is primarily black with white areas on the limbs.  The face is covered by shorter hair with a prominent muzzle.  The length of the head and body is about 21.5 inches, with the tail being nearly 24 inches long.  Ruffed Lemurs range in weight from 7.5-9.9 lbs (3.3-4.5 kg)The ears are hidden behind large tufts of fur.  Females are larger than males. 








Sparsely distributed along the east coast of Madagascar


Rain forest

Life Expectancy

Up to 19 years

Sexual Maturity

20 months


In the wild, they eat vegetable matter - leaves, sap, nectar, and fruit. At the Jacksonville Zoo they are offered monkey chow, apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, celery, cucumber, and romaine lettuce


IUCN – Critically Endangered, CITES - Appendix I, AZA – Yellow SSP


Social Structure: Ruffed Lemurs tend to live in very small multi-male, multi female groups. However group size and composition vary considerably depending on the season and availability of food. It may be the case that Ruffed Lemur society is comprised of a very large group, which in turn breaks down to smaller troops in a fission-fussion manner. Female Ruffed Lemurs are dominant over males. Reproduction: Breeding is seasonal and in Madagascar occurs between May and July. The breeding season is marked by changes in day length, therefore at the Jacksonville Zoo breeding season begins in late November The gestation period is 90 to 102 days, with females often giving birth to twins. During the breeding season, females will breed with multiple males from their own group, as well as males from other groups. Parental Care Unique amongst lemurids, Ruffed lemurs are the only lemurs to raise their young in a nest. Infants are placed in the nest, which has been built by their mother, after birth and will reside there for the first few weeks of life. After this the infants are transported via the mothers mouth, to a second nest site. AT this time the mother will often leave her young for a time to forage. All members of the group play a role in guarding the young and males provide a significant amount of care. 3-4 months after birth the Ruffed Lemur is fully mobile. Communication Ruffed Lemurs utilize a wide array of vocalization, as well as scent marking to communicate. Males use scent glands on the chest to convey messages, while females employ glands around the anal region. Vocalization is used to convey information such as territorial claims, submission to a dominant animal, and receptiveness to breeding among other things.


Territory is marked by vocalizations and by scent. A distinct odor is left behind on leaves, branches and fruits when they rub their palms on these surfaces. The long tail is used for balance. A sharp claw on the index finger is used for grooming.

Special Interests

There are two subspecies of ruffed lemur – black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata variegata) and the red ruffed lemur (V. v. rubra). Black and white ruffed lemurs are the largest members of the family Lemuridae. The word lemur in Latin (lemures) means ghost. Not much is known about the ruffed lemurs behavior or lifestyle.



The black and white ruffed lemur population is declining due to habitat destruction, commercial exportation and hunting.

Jacksonville Zoo History

The first black-and-white ruffed lemurs first arrived in June 1984. This species has successfully bred here. The first red-ruffed lemurs arrived in May 1999.


African Forest