The black-and-white ruffed lemur is active mainly in the early morning and late afternoon (7). It travels through its forest habitat by walking or running on larger branches and leaping from tree to tree (4), and is capable of leaping significant distances with great accuracy (6). It enjoys a rich diet of fruit, seeds, leaves and nectar, obtaining the nectar by using its long snout and tongue to reach deep inside the flowers (7). Through its taste for nectar, the black-and-white ruffed lemur has developed a fascinating relationship with the traveller’s tree (Ravenala madagascariensis), a tall palm-like tree topped with a single vertical fan of large leaves. Using its strength and dexterity, this lemur pulls open tough bracts which hide numerous pale, yellow flowers within. As it drinks the nectar, the plant’s pollen sticks to the lemur’s fur, and will be carried with the lemur when it goes to feed at the next tree. As a result, the black-and-white ruffed lemur acts as pollinator for the traveller’s tree, and is in fact thought to be the largest pollinator in the world (8).
This lemur reproduces seasonally with mating occurring between May and July, and offspring being born in September and October (7). It commonly gives birth to twins, sometimes even triplets (5). Unlike other lemurs, the black-and-white ruffed lemur gives birth in nests made from twigs and leaves, which are well-hidden in trees, 10 to 20 metres above the ground (2). Here the young will remain whilst the mother goes off to forage (5). At just four months of age, the young are independent and are just as active as adults. However, infant black-and–white ruffed lemurs are lucky to reach this age; many die from accidental falls and related injuries, and only around 35 percent of offspring live past three months (2).