Lemur Reproduction

Lemur Breeding

For most species of Lemurs the mating season is very short. This is usually less than three weeks per year. The female will likely only be in estrus for a few days annually. Such a small window is a huge problem for getting the number of Lemurs in the world to increase.

The time of year for mating of the Lemurs is environmentally effected. That means that in some areas the young are born during the winter months. Yet there is very warm weather there annually. In other areas though the young are born in the spring or the summer.

The gestation periods can be as low as 54 days in some species. For others though it can be up to 135 days. Studies show that the smaller the size of the Lemur the more young that will be born at once. The smaller species will average 2 at a time but can have up to 6. The larger species typically have 1 offspring at a time but can have 2.

The availability of food often determines when Lemurs will reproduce. When food supplies are short they will avoid breeding. This is a natural method for them to be able to continue to increase their own chances of survival.

The babies are very vulnerable at birth. The mothers will carry them around in her chest until they are able to hold on her back safely. They will continue to piggy back on here until they are old enough to move through the trees on their own. They stay with their mothers for 2 years before venturing out on their own.

Baby Lemurs consume milk from their mothers until they are old enough to forge on their own. The emerging of the first molar is when the mother will stop feeding them from her body. What is very interesting is that the weaning period for these young Lemurs is often timed right around the time of year when the food is the most plentiful.

Lemur breeding
Ring-tailed lemur with her cute infants

The mortality rate is very high for baby Lemurs. More than half of them will die before they are able to leave their mom and go out on their own. The typical life span of a Lemur in the wild is approximately 18 years.

In captivity there are many breeding programs for the Lemur. The goal is to offer the very best conditions so that mating will occur. The females are closely monitored to help ensure they can make when they are in estrus.

There are measures in place to offer excellent medical care for the young too. The goal is to ensure as many of them are able to reach the age of maturity as possible. The idea is to be able to one day release many of these Lemurs back into the wild.

Many are upset that various zoos out there have female Lemurs on birth control. They don’t feel that they should be limiting them from having offspring due to the fact that these animals are very low in numbers. Yet many zoos don’t have the resources to continue to offer space for more Lemurs than their current population.

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