What Do Lemurs Eat? An Island Primate’s Diet

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There are about 100 species of lemur in existence, and nearly all of them live on the isolated island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. So their main diet is based on foods available within Madagascar’s 228,900 square miles. Luckily, there are plenty of fruit, woody plants, and insects for these big-eyed animals to enjoy during the wet season. So what do lemurs eat during Madagascar’s dry season when food is harder to find? Quite a bit less. The lemur can pack on extra weight or lower its metabolism to survive on fewer meals when necessary.

Lemurs are wet-nosed primates with opposable thumbs. Some lemur species are endangered, and it’s illegal to have lemurs as pets in some areas of the United States.

Let’s discover more of what different lemurs eat, how they hunt and forage, and how the lemur’s body adjusts to life during Madagascar’s dry season.

What Do Lemurs Eat?

 

Lemurs eat bamboo, bird eggs, flowers, fruit, herbs, insects, leaves, lianas (woody vines), pollen, sap, seeds, shrubs, tree bark, and small vertebrates like mice. Lemurs are omnivores, though some lemur species have an herbivorous diet.

Most lemur species are opportunistic omnivores, eating whatever food they can find. However, they can also be picky eaters too. For example, lemurs who love to eat leaves – a favorite food of woolly lemurs – tend to prefer the younger leaves of a plant over the older ones.

Primates are fruit-lovers, and lemurs are no exception. However, a 2017 study published in Scientific Reports showed lower nitrogen levels in the fruit available on Madagascar than in “New World and Asian-African primate communities.” Thus, lemurs probably supplement their diet with more leaves and plants than primates in other world areas because the fruit on Madagascar may have insufficient nitrogen to meet their nutritional needs.

Here’s a list of common foods that lemurs eat:

Bamboo
Bird Eggs
Flowers
Frogs
Fruit
Herbs
Insects
Leaves
Lianas
Mice
Pollen
Sap
Seeds
Shrubs
Tree bark
Vegetables

Fruits that lemurs eat include:

Banana
Berries
Coconut
Fig
Kiwi
Mango
Nectarine
Papaya
Tamarind
What Do Different Types of Lemurs Eat?

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