Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bed time for cave lemurs

Ring-tailed rock climbers. 
One of the groups of ring-tailed lemurs that I study at Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, Madagascar, sleeps in a series of small caves. Although the group returns to the very same caves every day, the whole ordeal takes a lot of political prowess, a decent grip, and about 40 minutes. This is because some spots in the cave are preferred (I don't know why), and higher ranked animals get first pick of everything from food and water to grooming rights and sleeping space. But that doesn't mean that lower ranked animals don't get ideas about those extra cozy spots where all the cool kids hang out.

Here's a little clip of females getting grumpy at each other over access to a water hole. They are of about the same rank, but still get irritated.

High ranked females get first choice and go into the caves one after the other without much problem. Mid-and low-ranked females follow but have to balance a) getting into the cave quickly and claiming a decent spot with b) getting chased/bitten or otherwise told off and ending up in a crappy cave. High- and mid-ranked males face the same dilemmas, but have to defer to all females before getting a spot. The super loser low-ranked males can forget about getting into a cave. They sleep all alone in sad little trees and probably get eaten by fossa without anyone noticing. Poor things. Babies/juveniles are cut a little slack and tend to sleep near or with their moms.

There is a little biting at the beginning of this clip, but mostly they all follow the cue and enter unscathed.

And last, for this video clip, keep your eye on the lemur in the middle who is negotiating getting into the cave while hanging on and still looking cool. Its probably not even funny, but totally cracks me up.

Oh how I miss my little rock climbing lemurs...

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