Relatively little is known about the behaviour of these animals. Together with other sportive lemurs, they are believed to be ‘caecotrophic’, meaning they eat their faeces, digesting their food for a second time (5) (6). The reason for this behaviour is thought to be due to the low energy value of their food – chiefly leaves – which has to be fermented within their gut in order to allow bacteria to break down the cellulose and release the sugars and starches within the leaves. Rabbits also employ this process (7). As no mammal can digest cellulose on its own, it has to rely on bacteria to do this. Many other plant-eating mammals have evolved a system to extract as much nutrition as possible from their poor diets. The best-known examples are cows and sheep, which regurgitate food for a second chew (7).
Northern sportive lemurs give birth to a single youngster and they live together, with the mother leaving the baby on a branch whilst she feeds (5). Males are solitary and their territories sometimes overlap those of a number of females. The males will visit each female in the vicinity during the animals’ breeding season, but if he encounters another male within his territory he will defend it vigorously. They also call to indicate their presence within an area of forest (5).
These animals spend the daylight hours sleeping in holes in trees up to eight metres from the ground, although they have also been recorded as low as one metre. They have been reported as falling prey to Sanzinia madagascariensis, one of the three species of native boa, which takes lemurs from their sleeping holes (2).