Gray-backed Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur dorsalis)

This species has binocular vision. The gray-backed sportive lemur has a large cecum. On the hands and feet are large digital pads used for clinging. The upperparts of this species are medium to dark brown and the lowerparts (ventral side) are a more pale brown (Tattersall, 1982; cited in Harcourt and Thornback, 1990). The average body mass for this species is around 500 grams (Tattersall, 1982; cited in Harcourt and Thornback, 1990).

The gray-backed sportive lemur is found in the country of Madagascar. This species is found in the Sambirano Region of Northwest Madagascar and on the island of Nosy-Be (Harcourt and Thornback, 1990). This species lives in the humid forests (Harcourt and Thornback, 1990).

The gray-backed sportive lemur is primarily a folivorous species, but also will eat fruit and bark to supplement the diet (Petter and Petter, 1971; cited in Harcourt and Thornback, 1990). This species is also a cecotroph, which means it reingests its feces; it does this to help break down the cellulose in the leaves. This is an arboreal and nocturnal species.

The gray-backed sportive lemur moves through the forest by vertical clinging and leaping (Fleagle, 1988).

The gray-backed sportive lemur has a social system where the basic group is composed of the mother and her offspring. The males live solitarily and have home ranges that overlap one or more females. This species has a polygynous mating system. He visits each female during the breeding season. Females will leave their infants on a branch when they forage for food. This is a highly territorial species, males will violently defend their territory (Fleagle, 1988).

loud call: This call is emitted by the adult male and is a crow-like call (Fleagle, 1988). This is used as a territorial call, used to demarcate a male’s territory and to advertise to other males that a male already occupies a certain territory (Fleagle, 1988).

contact call: This is given by the mother to keep in contact with her infant which she leaves parked on a tree branch while she forages at night (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call sounds like a kiss (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).

contact-rejection call: This call consists of a series of resonant hissing calls which is followed by a two-phase vocalization (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call occurs in captivity if an individual is approached and they will also strike out with the hands (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). In the wild this is heard when two conspecifics are close in porximity to one another (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).




The gray-backed sportive lemur gives birth to a single offspring per year which is born between September and November (Petter and Petter, 1971; cited in Harcourt and Thornback, 1990).

Burton, Frances. 1995. The Multimedia Guide to the Non-human Primates. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.

Fleagle, John G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.

Harcourt, C. and Thornback, J. 1990. Lemurs of Madagascar and the Comoros. The IUCN Red Data Book. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

Petter, A. and Petter, J.J. 1971. Part 3.1 Infraorder Lemuriformes. in The Mammals of Africa: An Identification Manual. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

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.

Tattersall, I. The Primates of Madagascar. Columbia University Press, New York.

Last Updated: October 9, 2003.
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