Sportive lemurs are classified as an entirely separate family. They are rather chunky, with big eyes and ears, and have a vertical posture. These nocturnal lemurs are often seen during the day, roosting in tree cavities or dense tangles. At night, they move about with impressive leaps, while retaining their vertical posture.
This is another group, like the mouse lemurs, where the number of recognized species (currently 26) has increased dramatically in recent years, and new species may yet be described. These species look very similar, especially at night, but show some variation in size, colour, prominence of the ears, and other traits. However, it is unusual for two species to coexist, and so most can be identified by location
DISTRIBUTION: Throughout the island, in forested habitats, including spiny forest.
ID: Similar in size to dwarf lemurs (page 34), but have a vertical rather than horizontal posture. They also tend to sit most of the time, making occasional leaps, rather than constantly moving about in a tree. Often confused with
woolly lemurs, which are also nocturnal and regularly seen in habitual sleeping sites during the day. However, woolly lemurs have less prominent ears and have pale stripes on the back of their thighs; they are also more likely to be found during the day in a family huddle than the more solitary sportive lemurs.
VOICE: Quite vocal, especially at the beginning of the wet season. Calls are emphatic grunts, squeals, and screams.
BEHAVIOR: During the day, they sleep in tree cavities and forks, and dense tangles. Local guides often know the
whereabouts of sportive lemur sleeping sites and are able to show them to visitors. Feed on leaves, nectar, and fruit. The breeding habits of most species are poorly known, but they are thought to give birth to a single young at the beginning of the wet season.
WHERE TO SEE: Night walks in forest almost anywhere on the island can result in sightings. Small-toothed Sportive Lemur from Ranomafana NP, one of the darker species.
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