The bamboo lemurs are characterized by a grey-brown fur, which varies by species from reddish to greenish. Their muzzle is short and their ears are round and hairy. Their length is 26 to 46 cm, with a tail that is just as long or longer, and they weigh up to 2.5 kg.
Bamboo lemurs prefer damp forests where bamboo grows. Although they can be active any time of the day, they are often active just after dawn. In addition, they live on the ground and in the trees; they are good at both running on land and climbing and jumping through the trees. The Lac Alaotra Gentle Lemur or Bandro (Hapalemur alaotrensis) which lives in the reed beds of Lac Alaotra spends much of its time in water and can swim well, unlike other lemur species which only venture to water to drink.
The lesser gentle lemurs live together in groups of three to five animals, which probably represent families composed of a male, one or two females and their offspring. They communicate with a variety of sounds.
They are called bamboo lemurs because they almost exclusively eat bamboo, which helps them sharpen their teeth. It is unknown how bamboo lemurs can detoxify the high amounts of cyanide in their diet.
Gestation lasts 135 to 150 days and ends between September and January, when the female bares two young. These are weaned after approximately four months (if the food supply is ample) and are fully mature at two years of age. Their life expectancy is up to twelve years.
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