A black-and-white ringed tail and a black face mask and muzzle characterize the ring-tailed lemur. The animal's other characteristics include gray fur with a white underbelly and face, distinctive pointed ears and a dental comb.
The lemur's defining characteristic, its bushy black-and-white striped tail, measures up to 23 inches, which is longer than the rest of its 18-inch body. Despite being a primate, the lemur doesn't have a prehensile tail, which means it can't grip branches. Its body fur ranges from gray to gray-brown, with a white underside that starts above its eyes and runs down its chest and belly to the tail. It has black fur on its nose and black fur surrounding both eyes. The male lemur also has dark scent glands on its wrists and chest.
The lemur has spur-shaped claws on its hands and feet that enable it to climb trees. Its bottom teeth, known as a dental comb, are long and thin and aid in grooming. Grooming is an important aspect of interaction between lemurs. The lemur spends much of its time in trees, but is equally at home on the ground, where it forages for fruit. It also feeds on flowers, leaves, sap and tree bark.