Both sexes of the ring-tailed lemur maintain complex dominance relationships, but there are no actual hierarchies (3). Both males and females mark their territory boundaries; females use genital smears and males use scent from a wrist gland that they gouge into bark with the help of a horny pad on the wrist. However, home ranges overlap, and groups, numbering between 3 and 20 individuals, may come into contact. In such circumstances females will attempt to intimidate the opposing group by staring, and occasionally will fight briefly before retreating to the centre of the range (2). Following increased scent marking by females (5), mating takes place in a short period in mid April, resulting in synchronous births four months later in August and September (2). The purpose of this careful timing is to ensure that the young are weaned just as fruit becomes plentiful. Males compete for access to females, daubing their tails with scent from their wrist glands and wafting this pungent odour towards their opponent. These stink fights are commonly sufficient to establish rank, but fights can occur. Males might move between groups during the mating season to impregnate as many females as possible. After 134 – 138 days of gestation the females give birth to one or occasionally two young (3). Groups of females share the parental duties and form crèches. Young initially cling to the underside of a female, but will ride on her back when larger (6). All male offspring leave their natal group once mature, and will continue to transfer groups every three to five years throughout their life (2). These diurnal lemurs feed on the fruit, leaves, flowers, bark and sap from over 30 plant species (1). They are particularly social; sunbathing in groups in a characteristic yoga-like position, as well as spending much of their time grooming each other (7). They are also highly communicative, using several calls to unite members of a group, defend the territory and sound the alarm. Predators include the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) which preys upon both young and adults, as well as the Madagascar harrier hawk (Polyboroides radiatus) and the Madagascar buzzard (Buteo brachypterus) which only take young (2).
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