Weasel Sportive Lemur (Lepilemur mustelinus)
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Primates
Family Lepilemuridae
(Gray, 1870)
Genus Lepilemur
(I. Geoffroy, 1851)

Lepilemuridae or sportive lemurs, is a family of medium sized strepsirrhine primates. The family consists of only one extant genus, Lepilemur. They are closely related to the other lemurs and exclusively live on the island of Madagascar. For a time, this family was named Megaladapidae, but the current name was given precedence since the extinct genus Megaladapis was removed from the family.


French zoologist Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire first described the genus Lepilemur in 1851, prefixing the existing genus Lemur with the Latin lepidus ("pleasant" or "pretty"). However, it was erroneously spelled—a mistake later authors unsuccessfully attempted to correct to Lepidolemur. Members of the monogeneric family Lepilemuridae are referred to as either sportive or weasel lemurs. "Sportive lemur", which is more commonly used, was coined by Henry Ogg Forbes in 1894. Though he did not explain the name choice, he did mention the agility of Lepilemur. "Weasel lemur" is an older common name, dating to the 1863 publication of Cassell's Popular National History. Dunkel et al. speculated that was inspired by the species name Lepilemur mustelinus, which means "weasel-like" in Latin.

Physical Characteristics

Their fur is grey brown or reddish colored on the top and whitish yellow underneath. They typically have a short head with large, round ears. They grow to a length of 30 to 35 cm (with a tail just about as long as their body) and weigh up to 0.9 kg. Their eyes have a tapetum lucidum behind the retina, hence they have eyeshine.

Behavior and Mating

Sportive lemurs are strictly nocturnal and predominantly arboreal, moving among the trees with long jumps powered by their strong hind legs. On the ground, they hop similarly to the kangaroo. During the day they hide in leafy covering or tree hollows. Sportive lemurs are solitary and defend their territory against same sex intruders. The territories of males and females can overlap.


They are mainly herbivores and their diet consists predominantly of leaves.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Birthing happens between September and December after a gestation of 120 to 150 days, and is usually of a single young which is often reared in a nest in a tree hollow. At about four months the juveniles are weaned but remain with their mother up to an age of one year. At about 18 months they are fully mature, and live to be about eight years old.


AEECL's Sportive Lemur (Andriaholinirina, N., Fausser, J., Roos, C., Rumpler, Y., et al., 2006) (Lepilemur aeeclis)
Ahmanson's Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur ahmansonorum)
Ankarana Sportive Lemur (Rumpler & Albignac, 1975) (Lepilemur ankaranensis)
Betsileo Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur betsileo)
Gray-backed Sportive Lemur (Gray, 1870) (Lepilemur dorsalis)
Milne-Edwards' Sportive Lemur (Forsyth Major, 1894) (Lepilemur edwardsi)
Fleurete's Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur fleuretae)
Grewcock's Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur grewcockorum)
Holland's Sportive Lemur (Ramaromilanto & Lei, 2008) (Lepilemur hollandorum)
Hubbard's Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur hubbardorum)
James' Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur jamesorum)
White-footed Sportive Lemur (Major, 1894) (Lepilemur leucopus)
Small-toothed Sportive Lemur (Major, 1894) (Lepilemur microdon)
Daraina Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur milanoii)
Mittermeier's Sportive Lemur (Rabarivola et al., 2006) (Lepilemur mittermeieri)
Weasel Sportive Lemur (I. Geoffroy, 1851) (Lepilemur mustelinus)
Otto's Sportive Lemur (Craul et al., 2007) (Lepilemur otto)
Petter's Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur petteri)
Randrianasolo's Sportive Lemur (Andriaholinirina, N., Fausser, J., Roos, C., Rumpler, Y., et al., 2006) (Lepilemur randrianasoloi)
Red-tailed Sportive Lemur (Grandidier, 1867) (Lepilemur ruficaudatus)
Sahamalaza Sportive Lemur (Andriaholinirina, N., Fausser, J., Roos, C., Rumpler, Y., et al., 2006) (Lepilemur sahamalazensis)
Scott's Sportive Lemur (Lei et al., 2008) (Lepilemur scottorum)
Seal's Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur seali)
Northern Sportive Lemur (Rumpler & Albignac, 1975) (Lepilemur septentrionalis)
Hawks' Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur tymerlachsonorum)
Wright's Sportive Lemur (Louis et al., 2006) (Lepilemur wrightae)
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