Mongoose lemurs are active in the daytime feeding on fruits and leaves. In the dry, hot season they become predominately nocturnal to conserve energy and be more active during the cooler part of the day.
Mongoose lemurs are the smallest species of the genus. They are 12 to 14 inches long with the tail 18 to 20 inches long. They weigh 4 to 4.5 pounds. They are woolly and the tails are bushy and gray in both sexes. Males have a gray body with red fur on the side of the body and the face. Males have white beards when they are born that turn red as they grow older. Females are darker gray than males and they have white fur on the sides of the body and face.
Threats: habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict
The Zoo is protecting mongoose lemurs and other wildlife in Madagascar in partnership with the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group.
The time of year influences what time of day mongoose lemurs are most active. During the rainy season, they are active during the daytime, whereas during the dry season they are more active at night.
They are diurnal for the part of the year in which they feed on fruit and new leaves. In the dry season, when fruit and new leaves are not available, they become nocturnal and feed on nectar. When nocturnal they sometimes feed 80% of the time on a single species of tree. On Madagascar these lemurs live in small family groups consisting of a mated pair (which may remain together for many years) and their immature offspring. Occasionally older offspring remain with their parents for a time after puberty. On Comoros Island they live in larger unstructured groups with several males and females. Aggressive behavior is uncommon. Scent marking is very important sustained by rubbing branches with the crotch, forehead and hands. Unusual among primates, mongoose lemurs voluntarily share food with one another.
Mating is seasonal. Females experience estrus for about one month between April and June. They give birth to a single offspring per year, though twins are not rare. Young are usually born from August to October after a gestation period of about 128 days. Mothers will allow only other mothers to grooms their infants. Fathers play no part in infant care.