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Sportive Lemurs: Lepilemuridae

White-footed Sportive Lemur (lepilemur Leucopus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The white-footed sportive lemur, also called the white-footed weasel lemur, weighs 1.2 to 1.3 pounds (0.5 to 0.6 kilograms). Body and head length measures about 9.8 inches (25.0 centimeters). Their tail is the same length. This lemur has large ears and whitish circles around large orange eyes. Its upper-body fur is gray-beige with brown shoulders. It has white on its forelegs and hindlegs.

Geographic range: The white-footed sportive lemur lives in southern Madagascar.

Habitat: The white-footed sportive lemur lives in trees, bushes, and grass in deserts with spiny plants and forests near streams and rivers.

White-footed sportive lemurs are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time in the trees. They move from tree to tree by leaping. (© Nigel J. Dennis/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: The white-footed sportive lemur prefers to feed on thick, juicy leaves. However these may be rare in the dry areas it lives, so it eats tough, fibrous leaves. Because these leaves are hard to digest completely, it will eat some of its waste matter to extract, or get out, any remaining food value.

Behavior and reproduction: The white-footed sportive lemur is arboreal, living in trees. It has very strong, long hind limbs and travels by leaping between trees, then clinging onto tree trunks while climbing.

The basic family group of a white-footed sportive lemur is a mother and her young children. They sleep in tree holes, on branches, or in nests within thick vines. Each female group has its own small feeding territory. Males live alone in tree holes or vine bunches. Each male's feeding territory, or area, overlaps that of several females. During the mating season, a male will mate with more than one female.

White-footed sportive lemurs mate between May and July. Females are pregnant for about four and a half months. Females have one baby at a time. It is very tiny, weighing about 1.8 ounces (50 grams). Babies feed on mother's milk for about four months. When the females go out to search for food, babies are left clinging to a tree branch. Mothers make special noises, which sound like a kiss, to keep in contact with them. The young are mature, or adult, at eighteen months.

White-footed sportive lemurs are nocturnal, or active at night. They are highly territorial, protective of their feeding areas. Males, and sometimes females, threaten intruders with noises and physical displays. Intruders may be chased or even injured.

White-footed sportive lemurs and people: People hunt white-footed sportive lemurs for food.

Conservation status: White-footed sportive lemurs are Near Threatened due to forest fires, overgrazing by livestock, hunting, and poor land use. They are found in two Nature Reserves, a Special Reserve, and the Berenty private reserve. ∎



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

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.

Sleeper, Barbara. Primates. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 1997.


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

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Web sites:

Animal Diversity Web. "Family Megaladapidae (Sportive Lemurs)." http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megaladapidae.html (accessed on July 6, 2004).

Lemurs. "Lepilemur leucopus." http://bibliofile.mc.duke.edu/gww/Berenty/Mammals/Lepilemur-leucopus/index.html (accessed on July 6, 2004).

Lemurs. "Red-tailed Sportive Lemur." http://members.tripod.com/uakari/leilmur_ruficaudatus.html (accessed on July 6, 2004).

Lemurs. "White-footed Sportive Lemur." http://members.tripod.com/uakari/lepilemur_leucopus.html (accessed on July 6, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsSportive Lemurs: Lepilemuridae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Red-tailed Sportive Lemur (lepilemur Ruficaudatus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, BIOMES, HABITAT, SPORTIVE LEMURS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS