Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur
(Allocebus trichotis)
The tiny hairy-eared dwarf lemur is one of the rarest of the surviving lemurs. Until its rediscovery in 1989, it was known from only five museum specimens, four of which were collected in the late nineteenth century. The species can be distinguished from the superficially similar mouse lemurs by the tufts of long wavy hair on the ears, which give rise to both the common and scientific names. Less than 1,000 individuals are thought to survive. These are threatened by habitat destruction resulting from slash-and-burn agriculture, which occurs even within protected areas. It is also caught in traps and eaten by local people.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Habitat protection, further surveys to locate other remaining populations, long term studies into ecological requirements, continuation of captive breeding efforts.
Northeast Madagascar.
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Primates
Family: Cheirogaleidae
Lemurs belong to the suborder Strepsirhini, which also includes bushbabies, pottos and lorises. These groups are the most basal living primates. Ancestral prosimians, possibly resembling today’s mouse lemurs, are thought to have colonised Madagascar from mainland Africa 50-60 million years ago. In the absence of competition from other non-primate mammals, these species diversified to fill a wide range of unusual ecological niches. There are five distinct families of lemurs: Lemuridae, Indriidae, Daubentoniidae, Megaladapidae and Cheirogaleidae. The Cheirogaleidae family comprises 7 species in 4 genera: Allocebus (one species). Cheirogaleus (two species), Microcebus (3 species) and Phaner (one species). A. trichotis is the only representative of the genus Allocebus.
Head and body length: 125-145 mm
Tail length: 150-195 mm
Weight: 75-98 g
This small primate can be distinguished from the superficially similar mouse lemurs by the tufts of long wavy hair on the ears, which give rise to both the common and scientific names. It has a coat of brownish-grey fur with light grey underparts and a reddish-brown tail. Males and females are similar in size and colouration.
Very little is known about the ecology of this species. Nocturnal and primarily arboreal, it spends the day sleeping in a nest constructed from fresh leaves. The nests are located in small holes in large trees. Local people report that two or three (sometimes as many as six) individuals may be found sleeping together in the same hole. It is thought that these groups consist of an adult pair and their offspring. Little is known about the diet of this lemur. It has been observed catching and eating insects. It has sharp claws and large upper incisors, similar to those of other species which are known to use their teeth to scrape tree bark to obtain exudates or plant gum. The species has a long tongue, which suggests that it may also be adapted to feeding on nectar. In captivity, it is reported to feed on fruit, honey and insects. In May, the species has considerable fat deposits all over its body. Local people do not report seeing it during the dry season (May-September), which suggests that it may become torpid during this period. The species is thought to mate at the beginning of the wet season, in November and December, and give birth to 2-3 young in January and February. There are no data on lifespan or longevity for this species. However, other members of the family Cheirogaleidae are known to live 15-19 years in captivity.
This species has been found in both lowland and highland primary rainforest, up to about 1,250m.
The species appears to be widely distributed in the northern parts of Madagascar's eastern humid forest.
Population Estimate
This species is estimated to number between 100 and 1,000 individuals and occurs at low densities. It is very likely that the population is declining as a result of continuing loss of habitat.
Classified as Endangered (EN B1+2abc) on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
This species is threatened by habitat destruction resulting from slash-and-burn agriculture ,which occurs even within protected areas. It is also caught in traps and eaten by local people.
Conservation Underway
This species is listed on Appendix I on CITES. It occurs in several protected areas, including the Réserve Spéciale (RS) d’Anjanaharibe-Sud, Parc National (PN) de Masoala, near Mananara, Réserve Naturelle Intégrale de Zahamena, RS d’Analamazaotra, Forêt de Vohidrazana, near Andasibe, and the Parc National de Marojejy. It also occurs in an area around the Verezanantsoro National Park, which has subsequently been designated as the Mananara-Nord Biosphere Reserve. This area consists of a core national park and a 116,000 ha buffer zone where nature conservation is combined with development.
Conservation Proposed
Habitat protection is vital to the survival of the species. The creation of a network of protected areas has been proposed as the most effective way of conserving the species. Further surveys are needed to locate other remaining populations of this little lemur, and long term studies into the species’ ecology and habitat requirements would be useful. Four individuals were collected for captive breeding in 1989 in conjunction with the Mananara-Nord Biosphere project. Captive breeding efforts should continue to protect against possible extinction of the species in the wild.
Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG)
MFG is an international collaboration of zoos and related organizations that work together to conserve one of the worlds most endangered regions in the world. MGF works closely with AZA and aims to sustain the high levels of unique biodiversity and protect the many endemic species of Madagascar. MFG offer many areas of support including protection of parks and nature reserves, field research, breeding programmes, conservation planning, education and technical support.
Ganzhorn, J. and Members of the Primate Specialist Group. 2000. Allocebus trichotis. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 09 August 2006.

Goodman, S. M., Raselimanana, A. P. 2002. The occurrence of Allocebus trichotis in the Parc National de Marojejy. Lemur News 7: 21-22.

Langrand, O., Nicoll, M.E., Konstant, R. and Mittermeier, W. 1992. Lemurs of Madagascar: An Action Plan for their Conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Meier, B. and Albignac, R. 1991. Rediscovery of Allocebus trichotis Günther 1875 (Primates) in Norhteast Madagascar. Folia Primatologica 56: 47-63.

Russell A. Mittermeier, R.A., Tattersall, I., Konstant, W.R. and Nash, S.D. (Illustrator). 1994. Lemurs of Madagascar. Conservation International. Tropical Field Guide Series.Washington, DC.

. Rakotoarison, N. 1998. Recent discoveries of the hairy-eared dwarf lemur (Allocebus trichotis). Lemur News 3: 21.

Rakotoarison, N., Zimmermann, H. and Zimmermann, E. 1996. First Discovery of the Hairy-Eared Dwarf Lemur in a Highland Rain Forest of Eastern Madagascar. Folia Primatologica 68: 86-94.

Schutz, H. and Goodman, S. 1998. Photographic evidence of Allocebus trichotis in the Reserve Speciale d'Anjanaharibe-Sud. Lemur News 3: 21-22.

Distribution map based on data provided by the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment.

if you can provide new information to update this species account or to correct any errors, please email us at

Forum comments

There are as yet no comments for this species.

Add a comment

You must log in to post. If you don't have a login, it's easy to register.