I'll be honest with you people, I didn't even know what lemurs were until I saw the animated film 'Madagascar'. The moment I saw them, I fell in love with them. Lemurs belong to a group of strepsirrhine primates native to the island of Madagascar. The word 'lemur' is derived from the Latin word Lemures, meaning ghosts or spirits.
There are over 30 living species of lemurs. Some species are now extinct, including the ancient lemur, which was as big as a gorilla and weighed around 400 pounds. Today, lemurs can be seen in a variety of shapes and sizes, right from tiny mouse lemurs to the big indri, which is roughly the size of a house cat.
What do Lemurs Eat?
While some exceptions do exist, the diet of lemurs―in a broad sense―can be classified as herbivorous. You also need to take into consideration the fact that their diet differs from breed to breed. Smaller species mainly eat fruits and insects, while larger species eat fruits and other plant matter. In times of food scarcity, some species feast on insects and small vertebrates as well. These include the ring-tailed lemur, coquerel giant mouse lemur, etc. In fact, the coquerel giant mouse lemur even goes to the extent of feeding on insect secretion during the winter season when food availability is at its worst. Small species cannot sustain on plant material entirely. They have to feed on insects and small animals to fulfill their dietary requirements.
Leaves and fruits play a big part in the diet of lemurs. The ring-tailed lemur―also known as the bamboo lemur―and black and white ruffed lemur are also known to consume medicinal plants and herbs that are avoided by most of the other species. The golden bamboo lemur has also been seen eating giant bamboos which contain high levels of cyanide. Similarly, some lemurs can eat poison ivy and still not get affected by its ill-effects.
It has been reported that eight species of lemurs are seed predators, but this fact can be contested as scientists have only seen lemurs eating fruits with seeds, instead of eating only seeds. Lemurs of all sizes either consume flowers or the nectar in these flowers. Tree sap is also included in a lemur's diet. Some species have also been seen eating soil, which is believed to be beneficial for their intestinal digestion.
Lemurs are battling for their survival. While some species have already become extinct, most of the extant species are on the verge of extinction.