Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Mammals » Dwarf Lemurs and Mouse Lemurs: Cheirogaleidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Red Mouse Lemur (microcebus Rufus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DWARF AND MOUSE LEMURS AND PEOPLE

Dwarf Lemurs and Mouse Lemurs: Cheirogaleidae - Red Mouse Lemur (microcebus Rufus): Species Account

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Physical characteristics: The red mouse lemur, also called the russet mouse lemur and the brown mouse lemur, is reddish brown on its back and light gray or whitish underneath. It has a whitish stripe between its large round eyes. Its moveable ears are rounded, thin, and hairless. Red mouse lemurs are among the smallest primates. An adult is 5 inches long (12.5 centimeters) with a 5.6-inch tail (14 centimeters). A full-grown red mouse lemur weighs 1.5 ounces (43 grams). Females are about the same size as males.

Geographic range: Red mouse lemurs are found in eastern Madagascar.

A red mouse lemur marks its territory. These markings give information about the mouse lemur's age, sex, and whether it is ready for mating. (Photograph by Harald Schütz. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Red mouse lemurs live in coastal rainforests.

Diet: The red mouse lemur eats a lot of fruit, preferring fruit from plants in the mistletoe family. It also eats insects, spiders, flowers, and gum, or plant juices, and occasionally small frogs and lizards. These lemurs have been seen eating millipedes and scarab beetles as big as they are.

Behavior and reproduction: The red mouse lemur lives in trees and travels through all forests heights. It makes round, leafy nests in hollow trees or among branches. It sleeps during the day, and is nocturnal, active and feeding at night. Each red mouse lemur searches for food by itself. From July to September, fat is stored in its tail. A tail with stored fat may increase this mouse lemur's weight by 1.6 to 2.6 ounces (50 to 80 grams). Then, during the harsh dry season, June to September, it slows down considerably for short periods, becoming almost motionless, utilizing its stored fat as food.

From two to nine male and female red mouse lemurs usually share a sleeping nest. Males may also nest by themselves or in pairs. Home ranges vary with food availability. Males usually have a larger home range than females.

The red mouse lemur has several ways of moving. It runs along branches on all four limbs, like a squirrel. It also may leap as far as 9.8 feet (3 meters) from one tree branch to another, landing on all four limbs. Its long tail helps with balance.

The mating season of the red mouse lemur is from September to October. The female is pregnant about two months, and gives birth to one to three infants. A newborn weighs about 0.18 ounces (5 grams). The infants stay in their nest for three weeks, with the mother leaving only briefly to seek food and water. Weaning, or taking the young off breastmilk, occurs in February when there is the greatest amount of food available.

Red mouse lemurs and people: These lemurs are not considered important by local people.

Conservation status: The red mouse lemur is common in some areas, but could become threatened due to losing habitat through logging and grazing by cattle and goats. ∎



Boitani, Luigi, and Stefania Bartoli. Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983.

Darling, Kathy. Lemurs on Location. New York: HarperCollins, 1998.

Dunbar, Robin, and Louise Barrett. Cousins: Our Primate Relatives. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2000.

Kavanagh, Michael. A Complete Guide to Monkeys, Apes and other Primates. New York: The Viking Press, 1983.

Lasky, Kathryn. Shadows in the Dawn: The Lemurs of Madagascar. New York: Gulliver Books, 1998.

Powzyk, Joyce A. In Search of Lemurs. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 1998.

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Banks, Joan. "Living on the Edge: On the Verge of Extinction, Do Lemurs Have a Fighting Chance?" National Geographic World (Jan–Feb 2002): 12–17.

Hubbard, Kim. "For the Love of Lemurs." Audubon (September 2000): 60–67.

Mitchell, Meghan. "Securing Madagascar's Rare Wildlife." Science News (November 1, 1997): 287.

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"Wildlife of Tropical Rain Forests." National Geographic World (January 2000): 22–25.

Web sites:

"Cheirogaleidae: Dwarf Lemurs, Mouse Lemurs." Animal Diversity Web. http://www.Primates.com/primate/cheirogaleidae.html (accessed on July 5, 2004).

"Microcebus rufus: Brown Mouse Lemur." http://info.bio.sunysb.edu/rano.biodiv/Mammals/Microcebus-rufus (accessed on July 5, 2004).

"The Mouse Lemur." http://bibliofile.mc.duke.edu/gww/Berenty/Mammals/Microcebus-murinus/ (accessed on July 5, 2004).

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