AppearanceThe Black Lemur is between 90 and 110 centimeters in length, of which 51-65 centimeters are tail. Weight typically ranges between 1.8 and 2.0 kilograms.
The Black Lemur displays sexual dimorphism in coloration. Males have black or dark chocolate fur, while females' fur is of a lighter brown color, generally medium brown, chestnut brown or even orange-brown. Males of ''E. m. macaco'' have large black ear tufts, while females of ''E. m. macaco'' have large white ear tufts.
The only other ''Eulemur'' species that occur within the range of the Black Lemur are the Common Brown Lemur, ''E. fulvus'', which overlaps with ''E. macaco'' at the extreme southern and eastern edge of its range, and the Red-bellied Lemur, ''E. rubriventer'', on the Tsaratanana Massif. ''E. fulvus'' and ''E. rubriventer'' have different coloration and do not show the extreme sexual dimorphism of ''E. macaco'', making confusion between the Black Lemur and the species unlikely.
BehaviorThe Black Lemur lives in both primary and secondary forest. It is active both during the day and at night. It forages in both the upper and middle canopy, especially at night, and during the day it also forages in the understory. In degraded habitats, it also forages on the ground and may even eat soil.
The Black Lemur lives in groups of 2 to 15 members, including approximately equal numbers of males and females. Average group size is about 10 members, although the average may be smaller for ''E. m. flavifrons''. Females are dominant over males, although intragroup fighting is rare.
Groups have home ranges of about 3.5 to 7 hectares. Ranges overlap considerably, and population density can reach 200 individuals per square kilometer.
Black lemurs also have a habit of picking up and biting at toxic millipedes. The toxins are usually not fatal to the lemurs and they try to stimulate the millipede to release its toxins in self defence. Once this is achieved the black lemur will rub the millipede around its body to get the toxins on its fur. Its believed that they do this to help repel insects with the millipedes poison. However other researchers have theorized that they may also do this for a source of pleasure. Because when they inhale or swallow too much of the toxins it inhibits their monoamine oxidase system and as a result gives them a high sensation.
ReproductionMating usually takes place in April and May. During mating season, antagonism between males increases, and males sometimes roam between groups. After a gestation of about 125 days, a single infant is usually born between late August and early October. Females typically give birth for the first time at 2 years of age.
FoodThe Black Lemur primarily eats fruit, which makes up an estimated 78% of is diet. The ripeness of this fruit is vital to the lemur's diet. Other foods eaten include flowers, leaves, fungi, some invertebrates and, especially during the dry season, nectar.
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