Common Brown Lemur
Near Threatened (IUCN Red List, 2019)
What they look like
Unique among Eulemur species, common brown males and females share the same coloring—grayish brown with a blackish face and orange-red eyes. The more northern population has large, noticeable light patches above the eyes. Weighing 2-3 kilograms (about 4-6 pounds), they are sometimes confused with mongoose lemurs, which are grayer and sexually dichromatic.
Where they live
In the wild, common brown lemurs have two separate large populations, one across dry forests in the north-west and the other in lowland and montane rainforests of eastern Madagascar. They are found in several protected areas including Analamazoatra Special Reserve, Mantadia National Park, and Ankarafantsika National Park. This species is one of only two found in the wild outside of Madagascar; inhabiting the island of Mayotte in the Comoros—likely introduced there by humans.
What they eat
Diet consists primarily of fruits (nearly 70%), leaves, and flowers with occasional nectar and bark. They consume more than 100 species of plants foods, though 15 comprise the bulk of the diet. Nutritional analyses have revealed high levels of tannins and alkaloids.
How they behave
Common brown lemurs are cathemeral, meaning they are active both during the day and at night throughout the year. They generally locomote quadrupedally, with all four limbs. They are prone to leap frequently when traveling, especially when agitated. Group sizes range average 3 to 12 individuals with large groups more common in primary forest. Female dominance has not been observed.
How they reproduce
Seasonal breeding typically occurs in May and June. Females are sexually receptive (estrus) for only a 24-hour period. Males approach females from behind and stand bipedally while grasping her hips. The male may grab the ankles of the female with his feet. Males and females have been observed to interfere with mating between other group members. Females give birth in October after a gestation period of approximately 120 days.
What threats they face
Their primary threats are habitat disturbance from slash-and-burn agriculture, charcoal production, and illegal logging, as well as bushmeat hunting. Natural predators include hawks, boa constrictors, and the fossa (a 7kg carnivorous mammal, related to the mongoose with qualities of a cat).
Common brown lemurs at LCF’s Florida reserve
LCF houses a family of common brown lemurs.