Coquerel’s Mouse Lemur (Mirza coquereli)
This species has a long tail and ears that are large and membranous. There is sexual dimorphism in this species in terms of body mass where males have a larger body mass than females (Kappeler, 1997). The pelage of this species is gray brown dorsally and gray at the base and yellowish or russet at the tips ventrally (Tattersall, 1982). This species has a tail with long hair that darkens to black or dark chestnut at the tip (Tattersall, 1982). The face has the same coloration as the dorsal side with the cheeks being lighter in color (Tattersall, 1982). This species has two pair of mammae, one pectoral and one abdominal (Tattersall, 1982).
This arboreal species is found in Western Madagascar, from near Ankazoabo in the south northwards to around Antsalova and also in the Sambirano region (Tattersall, 1982). Coquerel's mouse lemur lives in forests near rivers (gallery forest) and near semi-permanent ponds and that have heights of up to 20 meters (Hladik, 1979).
Coquerel's mouse lemur is found in the following reserves in Madagascar (Nicoll and Langrand, 1989; cited in Harcourt and Thornback, 1990):
- Bemaraha Nature Reserve
- Andranomena Special Reserve
- Private Reserve of Analabe
The main percentage of this species diet constitutes secretions from social insects, primarily from the order Homoptera (Pages, 1980). During the summer Coquerel's mouse lemur consumes insects, spiders, small vertebrates, fruits, buds, flowers, exudates, and insect secretions (Pages, 1980). The secretions from Homopterans, Flatida coccinea, account for 50 % of the food intake during the summer (Pages, 1980). The insect larvae are often found on tree species Buxus madagascariensis, Strychnos decussata, and Grewia sp. (Pages, 1980). This species feeds on exudates from Terminalia sp. and Adansonia sp. (Pages, 1980). This species consumes the nectar from the Fangoky, Delonix boiviniana (Hladik et al., 1980). Coquerel's dwarf lemur has been shown to prey upon Microcebus murinus in captivity when they are housed in the same cage (Hladik et al., 1980). This species will also eat cashew nuts when living near plantations of cashews, and the cashew fruits become an important food source during the dry season in these areas (Adrianarivo, 1981; cited in Harcourt and Thornback, 1990). This species has a distribution which dependent upon free-living insects and not on the Homopteran larvae (Pages, 1980). This species does not seasonally increase body mass or hibernate as has been reported for Microcebus murinus (Stanger et al., 1995). During the winter the secretions from Homopterans are consumed more to help sustain it during food scarcity (Pages, 1980).
This species is found to build nests in both the wild and in captivity (Pages, 1980). The nest is made up of lianas, branches, and leaves which are interlaced together (Pages, 1980). The nest is located in the fork of a large branch or in dense lianas (Pages, 1980). The small branches used to make the nest are broken by use of the teeth and held with the hands and are transported in the mouth (Pages, 1980). In captivity it was found the males, females, and young all make participate in making nests (Pages, 1980). Each individual has up to 12 nests that they utilize on their home range, but usually half of the nests are in disrepair (Pages, 1980). The most common tree species that nests are built in is the anatsiko, Securineaga seygrigii, (Sarikaya and Kappeler, 1997). The nest trees tend to be associated with evergreen lianas (Sarikaya and Kappeler, 1997). Nests are built 1 to 2 meters below the crown of the tree that the nest is in (Sarikaya and Kappeler, 1997). Nest height may be a result of predator avoidance (Rasoloarison et al., 1995; cited in Sarikaya and Kappeler, 1997). On cold nights this species will leave the nest later in the evening and return to the nest earlier in the morning (Pages, 1980).
This species spends the first half of the night engaged in solitary activities, such as feeding, and the last half the night is devoted to social activities, vocalizations, and encounters with conspecifics, which could include mutual resting, social grooming, and play (Pages, 1980). During estrus the first half of the night is devoted more to social behavior (Pages, 1980). The home range consists of a relatively small central area surrounded by a larger peripheral area (Pages, 1980). The central area serves to provide enough food for the individual (Pages, 1980). Females may have their central area overlap with their young (Pages, 1980). The young, however, forage separately from their mother (Pages, 1978). The peripheral area overlaps considerably amongst both males and females allowing contact during the night (Pages, 1980). Males tend to move further distances throughout their home range in a night than females (Pages, 1980). Although females are reported to have a larger home range than the males (Pages, 1978). Males range four times further during the mating system than other times of the year (Kappeler, 1997).
This species has observed to have been preyed upon by a Madagascar buzzard, Buteo brachypterus (Goodman et al., 1993).
Coquerel's mouse lemur moves through the forest quadrupedally, and is capable of some leaping (Fleagle, 1988).
Pages (1980) describes four different locomotive patterns for Coquerel's mouse lemur:
- 1. "Slow movements in various directions during feeding activity, which permit close examination of dense foliage where insects may be found, usually at heights of 1.5 to 3 m."
- 2. "Rapid locomotion occurs at medium heights (2-5 m) and includes short leaps and running, mainly in the central area of the home range. In one hour, 500 m can be covered, and a total of 1000-1500 m during the entire night."
- 3. "Locomotion along the border of the home range consists of rapid movements in a straight line, but with less leaps and usually at a lower elevation from the ground than in the preceding case."
- 4. "Home range surveillance consists of displacement at great heights in the center of the home range, in very frequented areas located in the sparse foliage of large trees. These movements are frequently interrupted by stops."
The male and female home ranges of this species overlap. During the day, this nocturnal species constructs large circular nests to rest in (Fleagle, 1988). When two adult males meet on the periphery of each others home ranges chasing occurs and sometimes calling also occurs resulting in the retreat of one individual (Pages, 1980). When one male enters another's central area, the resident male will chase the intruder and performing intense calling, e.g. male single note call until the intruder retreats (Pages, 1980). This is a solitary species where males and females will come together during the night during the mating season and occasionally at other times (Kappeler, 1997). The mating system of this species seems to be scramble competition polygyny based on that males have relatively large testes size for a solitary primate (Kappeler, 1997). Both sexes of the species disperse from their natal ranges (Kappeler, 1997). The male will engage in frequent reciprocal tactile communication with females prior to estrus, and this may serve to form a temporary pair-bond and reduce aggression before mating (Pages, 1978).
Pages (1982) gave three criteria which characterize social play in Coquerel's mouse lemur: "twisting and turning of the animal suspended by the feet, the open mouth mimic, and symmetry and alternance of roles between partners." Solitary play and the exchange of spatial activities have been found to be the precursors to social play (Pages, 1982). Individuals may utilize supports that have become privileged sites for social play (Pages, 1982).
purring: This weak noise is emitted by the infant when licked by the mother (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This sounds like "purring" (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).
"pui" call: This is a low-pitched mother-infant contact call (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call is heard right before dawn (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).
mating call: This call is composed of a high-pitched whistle followed by a "decrescendo" squeak (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call is emitted by males and females and may be uttered reciprocally (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call is emitted at the moment of estrus (Pages, 1980).
cohesion call: This call sounds like "hou" and is low in frequency (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call has also been described to sound like "hum" or "hein" (Pages, 1980). This call has also been described to sound like "hn" (Stanger, 1995). The fundamental frequency for this call is located below 500 hertz (Stanger, 1995). This call is uttered when an individual is moving and may be heard whether or not a conspecific is in the area (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call is also heard by mothers when they approach their infants (Stanger, 1995).
adult contact call: This call sounds like a drawn out "ptiao" sound (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call resembles the "pui" call (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call can occur in rapid sequences between adults, and this serves as the call and the response between adults (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).
male single note call: This call consists of a short intense whistle which is uttered by the male from the central part of the home range (Pages, 1980). This call may serve as a territorial call and is responded to by other males (Pages, 1980).
alarm call: This call sounds like a "ptiak" sound (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call has also been described to like "croak" (Pages, 1980). This call has also been described to sound like "zek" (Stanger, 1995). When this was uttered by an individual in captivity other conspecifics looked down at the ground (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).
contact-rejection call: This call is uttered by adults and during fighting this call which can be described as a grunt crescendo becoming more high-pitched (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call sounds like "tisk-tisk-tisk" (Pages, 1980).
distress call: This call consists of short calls which are high in pitch that are repeated at a high intensity with weak grunts occurring during the duration (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).
punctuated urine marking: This is a marking type where urine is used and it's purpose is to demarcate a territory (Pages, 1980).
anogenital dragging: This a marking type where feces and glandular secretions may also be used with urine to demarcate a territory (Pages, 1980).
salivary marking: This is a marking type where secretions from the salivary glands are used to demarcate a territory (Pages, 1980).
social grooming: This is where individual grooms another removing dead skin and/or parasites. This serves to strengthen the social bond between the two individuals.
The number at birth is twins with the occasional triplet, and the interbirth interval is about a year. The gestation length for this species was found to be 89.4 days (Izard, 1986). A copulation plug forms after breeding in the female's vagina (Izard, 1986). During estrus the vagina of the female becomes swollen and turns a pink-red color (Stanger et al., 1995). When a female comes close to being in estrus a male will follow her closely and perform sniffing behavior (Stanger et al., 1995). During estrus a male will perform social grooming towards the female (Stanger et al., 1995). Reproduction can occur throughout the year in captivity (Stanger et al., 1995), but it was found to be seasonal in the wild (Kappeler, 1997). In the wild mating occurs in October (Pages, 1978).
Adrianarivo, A.J. 1981. Etude comparee de l'organisation sociale chez Microcebus coquereli. Unpublished dissertation, University of Madagascar, Antananarivo.
Burton, F. 1995. The Multimedia Guide to the Non-human Primates. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.
Fleagle, J. G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.
Goodman, S.M., O'Connor, S., and Langrand, O. 1993. A review of predation on lemurs: implications for the evolution of social behavior in small, nocturnal primates. In Lemur Systems and Their Ecological Basis. eds. P.M. Kappeler and J.U. Ganzhorn. Plenum Press: New York.
Harcourt, C. and Thornback, J. 1990. Lemurs of Madagascar and the Comoros. The IUCN Red Data Book. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.
Hladik, C.M. 1979. Diet and ecology of prosimians. In The Study of Prosimian Behavior. eds. G.A. Doyle and R.D. Martin. Academic Press: New York.
Hladik, C.M., Charles-Dominique, P., and Petter, J.J. 1980. Feeding strategies of five nocturnal prosimians in the dry forest of the west coast of Madagascar. In Nocturnal Malagasy Primates: Ecology, Physiology, and Behavior. eds. P. Charles-Dominique, H.M. Cooper, A. Hladik, C.M. Hladik, E. Pages, G.F. Pariente, A. Petter-Rousseaux, and A. Schilling. Academic Press: New York.
Izard, M.K. Reproduction in Mirza coquereli (Coquerel's Mouse Lemur). (abstract) American Journal of Primatology. Vol. 10, 408.
Kappeler, P.M. 1997. Intrasexual selection in Mirza coquereli: evidence for scramble competition polygyny in a solitary primate. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Vol. 45, 115-127.
Nicoll, M.E. and Langrand, O. 1989. Revue Generale du Systeme d'Aires Protegees de la Conservation a Madagascar. Unpublished report to WWF.
Pages, E. 1978. Home range, behaviour, and tactile communication in a nocturnal Malagasy lemur Microcebus coquereli. in Recent Advances in Primatology Vol. 3: Evolution. eds. D.J. Chivers and K.A. Joysey. Academic Press: London.
Pages, E. 1980. Ethoecology of Microcebus coquereli during the dry season. In Nocturnal Malagasy Primates: Ecology, Physiology, and Behavior. eds. P. Charles-Dominique, H.M. Cooper, A. Hladik, C.M. Hladik, E. Pages, G.F. Pariente, A. Petter-Rousseaux, and A. Schilling. Academic Press: New York.
Pages, E. 1982. Jeu et socialization: aspect descriptif et theorique de l'ontogenese chez un microcebe prosimien malgache. Journal de Psychologie. Vol. 3, 251-262.
Petter, J.J. and Charles-Dominique, P. 1979. Vocal communication in prosimians. In The Study of Prosimian Behavior. eds. G.A. Doyle and R.D. Martin. Academic Press: New York.
Rasoloarison, R., Rasolonandrasana, B., Ganzhorn, J., and Goodman, S. 1995. Predation on vertebrates in the Kirindy forest, Western Madagascar. Ecotropica. Vol. 1, 59-65.
Sarikaya, Z. and Kappeler, P.M. 1997. Nest building behavior of Coquerel's dwarf lemur (Mirza coquereli). Primate Report. Vol. 47, 3-9.
Stanger, K.F. 1995. Vocalizations of some cheirogaleid prosimians evaluated in a phylogenetic context. In Creatures of the Dark: The Nocturnal Prosimians. eds. L. Altermn, G.A. Doyle, M.K. Izard. Plenum Press: New York.
Stanger, K.F., Coffman, B.S., and Izard, M.K. 1995. Reproduction in Coquerel's dwarf lemur (Mirza coquereli). American Journal of Primatology. Vol. 36, 223-237.
Tattersall, I. 1982. The Primates of Madagascar. Columbia University Press: New York.
Last Updated: November 4, 2006.
[Primate Fact Sheets]