Greater dwarf lemurs are found in the eastern and northern parts of Madagascar. They might also inhabit a section of west-central Madagascar. (Nowak, 1999) (Nowak, 1999)
The length of the head and body range from 167 to 264 mm, with a mass between 167 and 600 g. The tail is longer than the body and has a length between 195 and 310 mm (Cockram, 1962; Nowak, 1999). The tail is broad at the base and tapers to the end. They eyes are large and conspicuous eyes, with a reflective tapetum lucidum for night vision (Grzimek, 1988). A black ring of hair surrounds the eyes. The ears are thin and have small, sparse hairs (Hill, 1953). Thick fur covers the rest of the body. The fur varies from gray to reddish brown on the head, back, and tail. The rump of greater dwarf lemurs is white and usually has a yellow tint (Nowak, 1999). (Cockram, 1962; Grzimek, 1988; Hill, 1953; Nowak, 1999)
The mating system of these animals is not known. Cheirogaleus major is reported to be solitary, with males demonstrating intolerance for one another. This suggests that mating is either monogamous or polygynous. (Nowak, 1999)
The estrus period of females lasts 2 to 3 days and mating usually occurs in October or November. Gestation period takes 70 days (Nowak, 1999). In December or January, females give birth in a tree cavity that is padded with leaves. Litter sizes of 2 or 3 are common. young are weaned around 45 days of age, and reach sexual maturity by the age of 10 to 14 months. (Nowak, 1999)
Females build nests where they give birth to their offspring. Offspring are fully furred at birth and have open eyes. By 3 to 4 weeks, they begin climbing and can trail after their mother (Grzimek, 1988). The period of nursing is 45 days (Nowak, 1999). A month and a half after birth, the offspring no longer rely on the mother (Grzimek, 1988). (Grzimek, 1988; Nowak, 1999)
Greater dwarf lemurs are nocturnal (Hill, 1953). They sleep during the day in nests composed of twigs, leaves, and grass, or in hollowed sections of trees that are padded with dry leaves. They are usually solitary, but may be found with other lemurs while resting during the day (Grzimek, 1988).
Greater dwarf lemurs inhabit areas of Madagascar with pronounced dry seasons. They become seasonally torpid during dry times (aestivation). During torpor, the lemurs find a secluded area such as a hollow tree or a tunnel in the roots of a tree (Grzimek, 1988). Torpor can last over a month and fat that is stored in the base of the tail is used during this time. These animals can lose up to 100 g of their weight during torpid periods (Grzimek, 1988; Nowak, 1999).
Greater dwarf lemurs are not known to be very vocal or make many calls. Soft calls are made in order to locate other individuals (Nowak, 1999). When disturbed, louder trills can be heard (Grzimek, 1988; Nowak, 1999). They have been observed licking and grooming the fur of other lemurs (Grzimek, 1988). (Grzimek, 1988; Nowak, 1999)
Individual home ranges of the greater dwarf lemur are usually less than 200 meters in diameter. There is large overlap of the home ranges between individual lemurs. They are not believed to be territorial (Nowak, 1999). They have no scent glands for marking, but urine and feces are used for marking limbs of trees. (Nowak, 1999)
These lemurs are not reported to be highly vocal, but do emit some calls. Tactile communication is of importance between rivals and mates, as well as between offspring and their mother. Such communication may include grooming, playing, and aggression. Urine is used for scent marking, indicating that some chemical communication is used. Although not specifically reported for this species, visual communication, through body postures, etc, is usually used by primates. (Nowak, 1999)
Greater dwarf lemurs are omnivorous. They usually feed on fruits, flowers, and nectar (Nowak, 1999). The diet sometimes also includes insects and small vertebrates (Grzimek, 1988). Greater dwarf lemurs may also eat honey (Cockram, 1962). (Cockram, 1962; Grzimek, 1988; Nowak, 1999)
Specific predators of these animals have not been reported. However, many different tenrecs, fossas, and civets may prey upon these small primates. In addition, nocturnal birds of prey and snakes may also feed upon them.
These creatures are inadequately studied, so little is known about thier role in the ecosystem. However, it is likely that they have some impact on insect populations through predation. They may help to disperse seeds from the fruits they eat, and they may help to polinate plants when the forage for nectar. To the extent that these animals are preyed upon by others, they may have some impact on predator populations.
There is no known positive benefit to human economies. However, it has been reported that local people sometimes keep these lemurs as pets. They are quite affectionate once habituated, and come when called. (Nowak, 1999)
There is no known adverse affect on humans.
Greater dwarf lemurs are under a low degree of threat. The total population is estimated to be over 100,000 animals (Mittermeier et al., 1992). Densities range from 75 to 110 animals/sq km (Nowak, 1999). In an IUCN evaluation of the lemurs of Madagascar completed in 1992, greater dwarf lemurs were not listed as a High Priority or Priority species. This species can be found in many of the parks in Madagascar (Mittermeier et al., 1992). (Mittermeier, et al., 1992)
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Arthur Cooper (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
young are relatively well-developed when born
Cockram, E. 1962. Introduction to Mammology. New York: Ronald Press Company.
Grzimek, B. 1988. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.
Hill, W. 1953. Primates: Comparative Anatomy and Taxonomy. London: Edinburgh University Press.
Mittermeier, R., W. Konstant, M. Nicoll, O. Langrond. 1992. Lemurs of Madagascar - Action Plan for Their Conservation 1993-1999. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.