The mongoose lemur is a small primate in the family Lemuridae, native to Madagascar and the Comoros Islands. These arboreal animals have pointed faces, long bushy tails, dark brown upper parts, pale bellies and a beard, which is reddish in males and white in females. They live in family groups and feed primarily on fruits, but also eat leaves, flowers and nectar, with nectar from the kapok tree making up a large part of their diet during the dry season. They have declined sharply in numbers because of habitat destruction and hunting, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated their conservation status as “critically endangered”.
The mongoose lemur ranges in size from 12 to 18 in (300 to 460 mm) long plus a tail of 16 to 25 in (410 to 640 mm). Both sexes are born with white beards, but become obviously dimorphic at about six weeks of age when the males develop red beards and red cheeks. The males also have lighter faces than the females. Males may further distinguish themselves when scent-marking territory, as they occasionally develop a bald patch on top of the head from rubbing.