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Brown mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus)
CITES Appendix I (CITES)[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Strepsirrhini
Superfamily: Lemuroidea
Family: Cheirogaleidae
Gray, 1873
Type genus
  • Microcebina Gray, 1870[a]
  • Cheirogalina Gray, 1872

The Cheirogaleidae are the family of strepsirrhine primates containing the various dwarf and mouse lemurs. Like all other lemurs, cheirogaleids live exclusively on the island of Madagascar.



Cheirogaleids are smaller than the other lemurs and, in fact, they are the smallest primates. They have soft, long fur, colored grey-brown to reddish on top, with a generally brighter underbelly. Typically, they have small ears, large, close-set eyes, and long hind legs. Like all strepsirrhines, they have fine claws at the second toe of the hind legs. They grow to a size of only 13 to 28 cm, with a tail that is very long, sometimes up to one and a half times as long as the body. They weigh no more than 500 grams, with some species weighing as little as 60 grams.[3]

Dwarf and mouse lemurs are nocturnal and arboreal. They are excellent climbers and can also jump far, using their long tails for balance. When on the ground (a rare occurrence), they move by hopping on their hind legs. They spend the day in tree hollows or leaf nests. Cheirogaleids are typically solitary, but sometimes live together in pairs.

Their eyes possess a tapetum lucidum, a light-reflecting layer that improves their night vision. Some species, such as the lesser dwarf lemur, store fat at the hind legs and the base of the tail, and hibernate. Unlike lemurids, they have long upper incisors, although they do have the comb-like teeth typical of all strepsirhines. They have the dental formula:

Cheirogaleids are omnivores, eating fruits, flowers and leaves (and sometimes nectar), as well as insects, spiders, and small vertebrates.[3]

The females usually have three pairs of nipples. After a meager 60-day gestation, they will bear two to four (usually two or three) young. After five to six weeks, the young are weaned and become fully mature near the end of their first year or sometime in their second year, depending on the species. In human care, they can live for up to 15 years, although their life expectancy in the wild is probably significantly shorter.



The five genera of cheirogaleids contain 42 species.[4][5][6][7]


  • a According to the letter of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, the correct name for this family should be Microcebidae, but the name Cheirogaleidae has been retained for stability.[2]
  • b In 2008, 7 new species of Microcebus were formally recognized,[4] but Microcebus lokobensis (Lokobe mouse lemur) was not among the additions, even though it was described in 2006. Therefore, its status as a species is still questionable.


  1. ^ "Checklist of CITES Species". CITES. UNEP-WCMC. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b McKenna, MC; Bell, SK (1997). Classification of Mammals: Above the Species Level. Columbia University Press. p. 334. ISBN 0-231-11013-8.
  3. ^ a b Martin, Robert D. (1984). Macdonald, D. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 126–127. ISBN 0-87196-871-1.
  4. ^ a b c Mittermeier, R.; Ganzhorn, J., Konstant, W., Glander, K., Tattersall, I., Groves, C., Rylands, A., Hapke, A., Ratsimbazafy, J., Mayor, M., Louis, E., Rumpler, Y., Schwitzer, C. & Rasoloarison, R. (December 2008). "Lemur Diversity in Madagascar". International Journal of Primatology. 29 (6): 1607–1656. doi:10.1007/s10764-008-9317-y. hdl:10161/6237. S2CID 17614597.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Edward E. Louis; Melissa S. Coles; Rambinintsoa Andriantompohavana; Julie A. Sommer; Shannon E. Engberg; John R. Zaonarivelo; Mireya I. Mayor; Rick A. Brenneman (2006). "Revision of the Mouse Lemurs (Microcebus) of Eastern Madagascar". International Journal of Primatology. 27 (2): 347–389. doi:10.1007/s10764-006-9036-1. S2CID 56920.
  6. ^ Radespiel, Ute; et al. (2008). "Exceptional diversity of mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) in the Makira region with the description of one new species". American Journal of Primatology. 70 (11): 1033–46. doi:10.1002/ajp.20592. PMID 18626970. S2CID 205328907.
  7. ^ a b c Edward E. Louis Jr.; Shannon E. Engberg; Susie M. McGuire; Marilyn J. McCormick; Richard Randriamampionona; Jean Freddy Ranaivoarisoa; Carolyn A. Bailey; Russell A. Mittermeier; Runhua Lei (2008). "Revision of the Mouse Lemurs, Microcebus(Primates, Lemuriformes), of Northern and Northwestern Madagascar with Descriptions of Two New Species at Montagne d'Ambre National Park and Antafondro Classified Forest" (PDF). Primate Conservation. 23: 19–38. doi:10.1896/052.023.0103. S2CID 84533039. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-05.
  8. ^ Ganzhorn, J.; Donati, G.; Eppley, T.M.; Lahann, P.; Rakotondranary, S.J.; Ramanamanjato, J.-B; Randriantafika, F.M. (2020). "Cheirogaleus thomasi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T163022885A163312222. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T163022885A163312222.en. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  9. ^ a b c Stafford, Ned (2006-11-20). "Nature News: Lemur boom on Madagascar". Nature: news061120–15. doi:10.1038/news061120-15. S2CID 84701328. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  10. ^ a b c Scott Hotaling; Mary E. Foley; Nicolette M. Lawrence; Jose Bocanegra; Marina B. Blanco; Rodin Rasoloarison; Peter M. Kappeler; Meredith A. Barrett; Anne D. Yoder; David W. Weisrock (2016). "Species discovery and validation in a cryptic radiation of endangered primates: coalescent-based species delimitation in Madagascar's mouse lemurs". Molecular Ecology. 25 (9): 2029–2045. Bibcode:2016MolEc..25.2029H. doi:10.1111/mec.13604. PMID 26946180. S2CID 43912903.
  11. ^ Radespiel, U.; Ratsimbazafy, J. H.; Rasoloharijaona, S.; Raveloson, H.; Andriaholinirina, N.; Rakotondravony, R.; Randrianarison, R. M.; Randrianambinina, B. (2011). "First indications of a highland specialist among mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) and evidence for a new mouse lemur species from eastern Madagascar". Primates. 53 (2): 157–170. doi:10.1007/s10329-011-0290-2. PMID 22198090. S2CID 8473176.
  12. ^ "New Primate Species Discovered on Madagascar". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  13. ^ a b Rasoloarison, Rodin M.; Weisrock, David W.; Yoder, Anne D.; Rakotondravony, Daniel; Kappeler, Peter M. (2013). "Two New Species of Mouse Lemurs (Cheirogaleidae: Microcebus) from Eastern Madagascar". International Journal of Primatology. 34 (3): 1–15. doi:10.1007/s10764-013-9672-1. S2CID 17860060.
  14. ^ a b Pappas, Stephanie (26 March 2013). "Tiny Lemur Twins Are 2 New Species". LiveScience.
  15. ^ Schüßler, Dominik; Blanco, Marina B.; Salmona, Jordi; Poelstra, Jelmer; Andriambeloson, Jean B.; Miller, Alex; Randrianambinina, Blanchard; Rasolofoson, David W.; Mantilla-Contreras, Jasmin; Chikhi, Lounès; Louis, Edward E. (2020). "Ecology and morphology of mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) in a hotspot of microendemism in northeastern Madagascar, with the description of a new species". American Journal of Primatology. 82 (9): e23180. doi:10.1002/ajp.23180. ISSN 1098-2345. PMID 32716088.