Creature Feature: Lycus the ring-tailed lemur

Lycus is one of the oldest lemurs we have, and is a favorite among some of the keepers. He was born at the Duke Lemur Center in March of 1985, and came to live at the museum in October of 2005. He lives with two other ring-tailed lemurs, Cassandra and her son Satyrus. It is hard to tell the three apart, so they all have different colored bands on their tracking collars. But Lycus is the easiest to tell apart because he has a distinctive bump on his chin and a white patch of fur on his left shoulder.

Although Lycus is a pretty old lemur, he is still very active and gets around just as well as the others. The only age-related difference that he has is that his teeth are more worn down. Because of this, we crush the lemur’s morning chow into smaller pieces and make it softer by adding apple juice and mashed banana to it. This method helps the older lemurs a lot when eating the chow, which is important because they need the nutrients it contains. In the evening, the lemurs are fed their fruits and vegetables. These consist of banana, apple, sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, greens, papaya, mango, grapes, berries, melon, green beans, corn, pear, peach and plum. What a variety! We give different foods on different days so that their meals can be enriching. They also get other foods such as raisins and pineapple with their enrichment items. Of course, like all the lemurs, Lycus loves the bananas and other fruits more than the vegetables, but they do also enjoy cooked sweet potato.
During the warmer parts of the year, you can find the ring-tailed lemurs in the outdoor exhibit. They are brought indoors at night because it is safer, but they still have access to outside holding yards if they want to go out during the night. When the colder months come, though, they cannot stay outside. Their bodies cannot withstand the cold temperatures and they could get frostbite in their toes or tails. So they stay in the warm lemur house or go on exhibit in the indoor viewing area when the temperatures drop. For the keepers working outside in the winter, it’s always a relief to arrive at the warm lemur building to clean!

You can learn a lot more about lemurs by visiting this website, or you can take a tour at the Duke Lemur Center and see a wide array of lemur species there!

It is difficult to see the bump on Lycus’ chin in these pictures, but notice the patch of white fur on his left shoulder in the second picture. He is picking up some morning chow to eat.

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