Tuesday 18 June
Northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis)
Northern sportive lemur fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Northern sportive lemur description
The name ‘sportive’ came about owing to this species’ interesting habit of adopting a boxer-like stance when threatened (1). Northern sportive lemurs (Lepilemur septentrionalis) are one of the smallest of the Lepilemurs and have pale grey-brown backs with a darker line that runs from the head down to the tail. There is some brown around the top of the head and around their shoulders, and their undersides are grey (2). With both eyes facing forwards they have excellent binocular vision (5). They are arboreal and nocturnal and move from tree to tree by leaping. They adopt a vertical posture, clinging to the tree with pads on their hands and feet (5). They then leap in this upright position (6).
- Lemur Comadreja Septentrional.
Northern sportive lemur biology
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).Top
Northern sportive lemur range
The northern sportive lemur is restricted to the very northern-most parts of Madagascar, from the Montagne d’Ambre southwards to the Mahavay River and east to Vohemar (2).Top
Northern sportive lemur habitatTop
Northern sportive lemur statusTop
Northern sportive lemur threats
Like much of the native fauna of Madagascar, northern sportive lemurs are at risk from loss of their habitats (2). Much of this habitat destruction is caused by extensive ‘slash and burn’ techniques as forests are destroyed to provide more agricultural land for an increasing population (8). The animals are also hunted for food in spite of being officially protected (2).Top
Northern sportive lemur conservation
The population of northern sportive lemurs is believed to be between 10,000 and 100,000 animals, with as many as 564 individuals per square kilometre in some areas. It has been recorded in four protected areas in the north of Madagascar (2).Top
Find out more
Learn about efforts to conserve the northern sportive lemur:
EDGE of Existence:
For more information on the northern sportive lemur:
- Garbutt, N. 1999, Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex
Authenticated (17/10/2005) by Matt Richardson, independent primatologist and writer.Top
- Living in trees.
- A plant that sheds its leaves at the end of the growing season.
- Active at night.
- An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
- Richardson, M. (2005) Pers. comm.
- Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.
IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
CITES (May, 2004)
Primate Behaviour (May, 2004)
- Durrell, G. (1992) The Aye-aye and I. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
- Attenborough, D. (1979) Life on Earth. BBC, London.
World Wildlife Fund (May, 2004)
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.