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Owning a pet lemur care guide | Learn about feeding, housing and behavior

Lemurs are members of the primate family although not considered monkeys. This guide will go over everything from special foods to cage requirements and will give you an idea of what to expect when you have a lemur as a companion pet.

All lemurs are considered endangered in the wild, and are federally protected by the Lacey Act and therefore cannot cross state lines. You must look for and obtain your lemur in your state only.

Ruffed Lemur Pet care Ruffed Lemur breeder
Black and White Ruffed Lemurs

Owning a pet lemur care guide

What is the average lifespan for a lemur

You can expect a healthy lemur in captivity to live 15 to 20+ years.

What is the proper Diet for a pet lemur

Lemurs eat commercial-based primate biscuits and a healthy selection of fruits & vegetables. Food is available from specialized places online. Fresh produce can come from your grocery store.

What is a Lemur's Size at Adulthood

They are cat size varying from about 5 pounds to 8 pounds. They have long tails that are longer than their bodies. Ruffed Lemurs are the largest and have longer shaggy fur compared to the brown or ringtail lemur.

What kind of enclosure cage do Lemurs need?

Lemurs should have a large outdoor enclosure to thrive. These animals benefit greatly from the natural sun and will be healthier, cleaner, and happier in an outdoor enclosure that you visit. As young babies, they can be raised indoors in a medium to large size wire cage but as adults, they want to jump and climb around on a wide array of stimulating toys.

They live in the upper canopy tropical environment, so they like to be high up in the trees. Enclosures should have lots of trees or something very similar to a tree. Laying boxes should be located above the ground, big enough where they don’t feel trapped and if possible placed in a tree-like area. When temperatures drop below 60 degrees you will need to provide heat to keep them warm. They will need to have access to an indoor warmed room or have a heated large nest box.

A large walk-in cage that you can enter to spend time with your lemur is best. The bigger the better as far as cage size goes. Yes, they need an enclosure! No matter how much outside of the cage time. You must be able to put your lemur away, for their safety or otherwise, in their own space.

Lemurs must sleep in their enclosure! It is not safe for them to sleep with their owners.

They will become bored and unhappy if confined to a small cage all day long with little to no interaction. It is a must to provide a play area or a tall outdoor enclosure in which they can climb and sunbathe.

Living with a Lemur

Most species of lemur communicate through scent marking. The males have scent glands in their wrists and on their chests and the females have scent glands directly under their tails, close to the anus. They’ll rub these glands on surfaces to mark their territory. (see video)

As the lemurs in captivity are highly social, you may want to consider owning more than one. Lemurs are very social and live in groups in the wild. Your pet will rely on you for social interaction, so plan to devote plenty of time to them

Preparing for your Lemur

Before you bring your lemur home, you should have its designated area and habitat ready and have all food ordered and prepared. Lemur food almost always has to be ordered online so you should have all of their food and ready by the time you get them. Clear your schedule and be prepared to spend several hours per day the first few weeks to get accustomed to your lemur and let them get comfortable with you.

Remember to locate a vet experienced with exotics and that is willing to see your baby BEFORE you get your baby. Have your vet give a general examination and let them get familiar with you and your baby in case of an emergency or routine visits in the future. You should take your baby in yearly for annual checkups.

Owning a pet lemur care guide

Lemur breeder
Lemurs as pets, care and realistic expectations

pet Lemur FAQs

Can I legally own a lemur?

Lemurs are not monkeys but they are in the primate family and primates, in general, are illegal in most states. Before deciding to purchase a lemur it's important to research whether they are legal to own as pets in your state, county, and in your city. Once you determine if they are legal you can legally purchase one from a USDA licensed breeder in your state only. This is a federal law that is enforced and can result in a confiscation of your animal and thousands of dollars in fines.

Ruffed lemur for sale in texas
Red Ruffed Lemur

Do lemurs need to be in pairs?

Lemurs can be housed together and will benefit greatly from companionship. They are very social creatures and having two of them gives them someone to interact with 24/7. In the wild they live in large social groups. Having two is not necessary to have a socialized lemur they do very well alone with companionship from their owner. If you are not at home for many hours during the day you may consider adding another for the optimal mental stimulation of your lemur.

How much time do lemurs require?

When raised from infancy, lemurs can make fun and enjoyable pets for the right household. They have huge personalities and are quite charming. Keeping them loose in the house during the day after you have trained them is a very good option as long as you have lemur-proofed your house. They will want your attention and do silly things to make sure you are watching.

Do lemurs need baths?

They do not require regular bathing, they spend hours grooming themselves. They do require enclosure cleaning to ensure they are in a clean environment they will take care of their bodies. Ruffed lemurs are the messiest and require more cleaning, they poop more and will step in it. Lemurs do not throw their poop or urine.

Should you neuter or spay your pet lemur?

Lemurs should be neutered at around 6-8 months of age, this will greatly reduce the risk of aggression and the onset of sexual maturity This will prevent sexual hormones and can prevent undesired behaviors.

Are lemurs good with other pets?

Lemurs bond very closely with their primary caretaker and can be very jealous of other pets. They are known to slap and play-bite at some pets and a few pets are OK with this while others are not. It is good to introduce them early on and raise them together so they know and understand each other.

Meet a pet lemur
Baby Brown Lemur

Can they be litter trained/housebroken?


Do they make noise?

Lemurs make all kinds of noises from wails to howls, from purrs to chirps. They can be very loud. Brown Lemurs often sound like pigs with many grunts and snorts.

Things to consider

Humans and lemurs can pass diseases to one another, including tuberculosis and intestinal infections like giardia.

Very few veterinary hospitals will treat primates because of the possibility of disease transmission to humans and risk of injury to staff. Remember to locate a vet experienced with exotics and that is willing to see your baby BEFORE you get your baby.

An owner cannot legally drive with her lemur across state lines without a permit, or take her lemur to a boarding facility when she goes on vacation.

Ruffed Lemur breeder information
Ruffed Lemur Pet Information



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