Red-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur rufus)

Female red-fronted brown lemur carrying infant
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Red-fronted brown lemur fact file

Red-fronted brown lemur description

GenusEulemur (1)

This medium-sized lemur has a horizontal posture, which is suited to its predominantly quadrupedal mode of movement (2). These lemurs are also capable of leaping considerable distances, their long furry tails assisting them in maintaining their balance (5). Colouration of this lemur differs between the sexes (2). Males have grey-brown upperparts, paler creamy-grey underparts and a reddish crown (2) (5). Females have far more reddish-brown upperparts and a grizzled-grey crown (2) (5). Both sexes have prominent white eyebrow patches and distinctive bushy white cheeks, although these are far less bushy in females than in males. The face, muzzle and mid-forehead are dark grey to black, with a thin dark line dividing the crown (2).

Also known as
Audebert’s brown lemur, red brown lemur.
Eulemur fulvus rufus.
Head-body length: 35 – 48 cm (2)
Tail length: 45 – 55 cm (2)
2.2 – 2.3 kg (3)

Red-fronted brown lemur biology

Red-fronted brown lemurs live in multimale-multifemale groups without a noticeable hierarchy, generally numbering from eight to ten individuals, although group size may range between 4 and 18 (2) (5). In western forests aggregations of between 30 and 100 individuals have even been reported feeding in a single fig tree. Breeding is seasonal with infants generally born in September or October after a gestation period of approximately 120 days. A single offspring is usual, although twins have been reported (2). Brown lemurs reach sexual maturity between two and three years, and the lifespan in the wild is believed to range between 20 and 25 years (2) (5).

This species is cathemeral, meaning it is active at varying times throughout the day and night. Fruit, mature leaves, flowers, bark, sap, soil, insects, centipedes and millipedes form the bulk of this lemur’s diet (2) (6).


Red-fronted brown lemur range

Found in two distinct populations in the east and west of Madagascar (2). The eastern and western populations represent two separate subspecies, though these have yet to be officially described (3). There is also a small introduced population in southern Madagascar at the Berenty Private Reserve (5).


Red-fronted brown lemur habitat

Found in dry tropical lowland forest in western Madagascar and tropical moist lowland and montane forest in eastern Madagascar (3). Red-fronted brown lemurs are highly arboreal and spend most of their time in the upper layers of the forest (6).


Red-fronted brown lemur status

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Data Deficient


Red-fronted brown lemur threats

Habitat destruction remains the primary threat to this lemur, largely as a result of the explosive growth in the human population on Madagascar (5). Eastern areas of rainforest are destroyed by slash-and-burn agriculture and by forest cutting for fuel wood and construction, while dryer western forests are cleared by fires started to promote new flushes of pasture for grazing cattle. Hunting and trapping for food or the pet trade also constitutes a major threat to the red-fronted brown lemur, this lemur being one of the most commonly hunted lemurs in all of Madagascar (3).


Red-fronted brown lemur conservation

The red-fronted brown lemur is found in nine national parks, one nature reserve, five special reserves and one private reserve (3). Captive bred populations also exist in institutions worldwide (5). The fate of the red-fronted brown lemur will most probably be determined by the future of its forest habitat, which needs to be better preserved if the survival of this lemur is to be safeguarded.

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

Find out more

For further information on the red-fronted brown lemur see:

Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.

Mittermeier, R.A., Tattersall, I., Konstant, W.R., Meyers, D.M., and Mast, R.B. (1994) Lemurs of Madagascar. Conservation International, Washington, D.C.

Animal Diversity Web:



Authenticated (21/11/2005) by Matt Richardson, independent primatologist and writer.



Living in trees.
Active intermittently throughout the day and night.
Applied to animals that walk on four feet.


  1. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (June, 2009)
  2. Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.
  3. Richardson, M. (2005) Pers. comm.
  4. CITES (November, 2005)
  5. Animal Diversity Web (November, 2005)
  6. Science and Nature (November, 2005)

Image credit

Female red-fronted brown lemur carrying infant  
Female red-fronted brown lemur carrying infant

© Tom & Pat Leeson /

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
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