Hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis)

Hairy-eared dwarf lemur foraging at night
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Hairy-eared dwarf lemur fact file

Hairy-eared dwarf lemur description

GenusAllocebus (1)

The incredibly elusive hairy-eared dwarf lemur, the only species in the genus Allocebus, is one of the most rarely seen lemurs on the island of Madagascar (2) (4). Until 1990, it was known from only a few specimens and thought likely to be extinct (2) (4). Its fur is brownish-grey on the back, whitish-grey on the underparts, and it has a reddish-brown tail. The ears are short and, as its name suggests, there are tufts of long hair in front and on the internal side of the ear lobe (2).

Cheirogaleus trichotis.
Allocèbe, Cheirogale Aux Oreilles Poilues, Chirogale Aux Oreilles Poilues.
Lemur Orejipeludo.
Head-body length: 125 – 152 mm (2)
75 – 98 g (2)

Hairy-eared dwarf lemur biology

The nocturnal and cryptic lifestyle of the hairy-eared dwarf lemur renders it a difficult species to detect (4), and thus little is known about its biology and ecology. Until 1990, when this species was rediscovered near Mananara, knowledge of this animal was confined to just five museum specimens, of unclear and unreliable origin, and it was believed to be extinct (4).

This arboreal primate constructs nests of fresh leaves in small holes of dead or living trees, usually three to five meters above ground (2) (4). During the cold season, which extends from early May to mid-October, it is thought to reduce activity, making detection even more difficult (2) (12) (13). Hairy-eared dwarf lemurs have been encountered in groups of two to six individuals, most likely one or more adult pairs with their offspring (2) (5), and it feeds upon flying insects, gum, new leaves and small fruits (2) (5) (12).


Hairy-eared dwarf lemur range

Occurs in central- to north-eastern Madagascar, including the Andasibe region (7) (8) (9), Zahamena National Park (10) (11), the Mananara region (12) (13), the Masoala peninsula (9), Anjanaharibe-sud Special Reserve (14) (15), and Marojejy National Park (6).


Hairy-eared dwarf lemur habitat

The hairy-eared dwarf lemur inhabits dense rainforest in lowland and highland areas (2) (4). It is not entirely restricted to primary rainforest, and may be tolerant of a low level of habitat disturbance (5).


Hairy-eared dwarf lemur status

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3). This species was previously listed as Endangered but this has been updated to Data Deficient as the species is very poorly known, and there is very limited information available on its distribution and population size (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Data Deficient


Hairy-eared dwarf lemur threats

The continued destruction of the rainforests of eastern Madagascar poses a serious threat to this tiny forest-dwelling primate (2) (4). Highland rainforest within the hairy-eared dwarf lemur’s range is being logged at an increasing rate by local villagers for slash-and-burn agriculture and by mining companies (2) (4) (5). The hairy-eared dwarf lemur is also reportedly killed and eaten regularly by local people; an additional pressure that this species may not be able to withstand (2)


Hairy-eared dwarf lemur conservation

The hairy-eared dwarf lemur occurs in several protected areas, including Analamazaotra Special Reserve and Forest Station (5), Mantadia National Park (5), Zahamena National Park (10) (11), Anjanaharibe-sud Special Reserve (14) (15), Marojejy National Park (6) and in the area surrounding Verezanantsoro National Park (1), which may offer this endangered species some degree of protection. It is also listed on Appendix I of the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that trade in this species is only permitted in exceptional circumstances (3). To ensure this species’ continued survival it is proposed that three conservation actions are undertaken simultaneously; increased protection of important areas, long term field studies to obtain information regarding its distribution and status, and breeding programs to enable studies in captivity (4). Captive breeding may also protect against the loss of this species if the population was to become extinct in the wild. Hopefully, this scenario will never materialise, and instead we will have infinite years to discover more about this mysterious primate.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information about the hairy-eared dwarf lemur and its conservation see:



Authenticated (05/02/08) by Karla Biebouw, Nocturnal Primate Research Group, Department of Anthropology, Oxford Brookes University.



Active at night.
Primary rainforest
Rainforest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
The cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create space for agriculture or livestock.


  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2009)
  2. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker’s Mammals of the World. Sixth Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  3. CITES (June, 2007)
  4. Rakotoarison, N., Zimmermann, H. and Zimmermann, E. (1996) Hairy-eared dwarf lemur (allocebus trichotis) discovered in a highland rain forest of eastern Madagascar. Biogéographie de Madagascar, 1996: 275 - 282.
  5. Dolch, R., Hilgartner, R., Ndriamiary, J. and Randriamahazo, H. (2004) The grandmother of all bamboo lemurs - evidence for the occurrence of Hapalemur simus in fragmented rainforest surrounding the Torotorofotsy marshes, Central Eastern Madagascar. Lemur News, 9: 24 - 26.
  6. Rakotoarison, N., Zimmermann, H. and Zimmermann, E. (1997) First discovery of the hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis) in a highland rain forest of Eastern Madagascar. Folia Primatologica, 68: 86 - 94.
  7. Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.
  8. Andriamasimanana, R., Rabenandrasana, M., Raminoarisoa, V., Virginie, M., Ratelolahy, F. and Rakotonirainy, E. (2001) Effets de la fragmentation de la forêt humide sur les populations d'oiseaux et de lémuriens dans le corridor Mantadia-Zahamena. Lemur News, 6: 18 - 22.
  9. Rakotoarison, N. (1998) Recent discoveries of the hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis). Lemur News, 3: 21 - .
  10. Meier, B and Albignac, R. (1991) Rediscovery of Allocebus trichotis Guenther 1875 (Primates) in Northeast Madagascar. Folia Primatologica, 56: 57 - 63.
  11. Yoder, A. (1996) Pilot study to determine the status of Allocebus trichotis in Madagascar. Lemur News, 2: 14 - 15.
  12. Garreau, J. and Manantsara, A. (2003) The protected-area complex of the Parc National de Marojejy and the Reserve Speciale d'Anjanaharibe-Sud. The natural History of Madagascar, 2003: 1451 - 1458.
  13. Schuetz, H. and Goodman, S. (1998) Photographic evidence of Allocebus trichotis in the Reserve Speciale d'Anjanaharibe-Sud. Lemur News, 3: 21 - 22.
  14. Goodman, M. and Raselimanana, A. (2002) The occurrence of Allocebus trichotis in the Park National de Marojejy. Lemur News, 7: 21 - 22.
  15. Biebouw, K. (2005) Pilot study on the conservation status of the hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis) in Eastern Madagascar. Nocturnal Primate Research Group, Oxford Brookes University.

Image credit

Hairy-eared dwarf lemur foraging at night  
Hairy-eared dwarf lemur foraging at night

© Nick Garbutt / Indri Images

Nick Garbutt / Indri Images
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Fax: +44 (0) 1931 716 227


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