Despite the name, sportive lemurs are amongst the world’s laziest primates. However, in this instance laziness is not a lifestyle choice, but a necessary adaptation to a low-energy diet. In order for these small mammals to thrive on a meagre diet comprised almost entirely of leaves, they have developed extremely slow metabolic rates, requiring them to remain inactive for long periods (9) (5). The white-footed sportive lemur feeds mainly on the tough leaves of Didiereaceae and Euphorbiaceae species, as well as the leaves, and occasionally the flowers, of the tamarind (Tamarindus indica) (2) (9). This species is also reported to re-ingest its own faeces in an effort to maximise its nutritional intake (4) (5) (6), but direct evidence of this behaviour is apparently lacking (2) (9).
Like other Lepilemurids, the white-footed sportive lemur is arboreal and strictly nocturnal (2) (4). At night, individuals travel relatively short distances from daytime resting holes to forage sedately in the forest canopy. Long periods spent clinging vertically to a tree trunk are punctuated with periods of active foraging, when the powerful hind limbs are used to leap considerable distances from one perch to another (2). The small territorial home ranges are actively defended, with members of the same sex engaging in visual displays, vocalisations, chases and even severe fighting (6). Although normally solitary, particularly at night, the two sexes do sometimes share the same tree hole or liana tangle as a daytime sleeping site (2) (4) (6).
Breeding occurs from May to August, with a single young born between mid-September and December, following a gestation period of around 130 days. The infant is raised in a nest within a hollow tree and although weaned at around four months, may remain with its mother until it is over a year old (2) (6).