The largest species of Lemur!
Indri Scientific Classification
- Scientific Name
- Indri indri
Indri Conservation Status
- Fruits, Flowers, Leaves
- Name Of Young
- Group Behavior
- Fun Fact
- The largest species of Lemur!
- Estimated Population Size
- Biggest Threat
- Habitat loss
- Distinctive Feature
- Black and white markings and loud, prolonged vocal calls
- Other Name(s)
- Gestation Period
- 4 - 5 months
- Lowland rainforest
Classification And Evolution
The Indri is the largest species of Lemur found only on the island of Madagascar. Although they resemble ancestral primates, Indri actually shares a more common ancestor with the Loris and most likely evolved from smaller animals that came to the island from Africa during the early Eocene era, about 50 million years ago. Because there were no other primates to compete with, the Lemur species soon adapted to reside in various habitats, which created a diverse range of distinct species.
In Madagascar, the Indri is also called the babakoto which means ancestor of man or little father. The Indri is safe from consumption by the locals as there is a certain taboo over ingesting this animal since the native people believe that the Indri (with its lack of visible tail) resembles their ancestors. As a result, the Indri receives a bit of protection in some parts of their native environments.
Anatomy And Appearance
Indris are the largest of all living Lemur species today with some individuals reaching nearly a meter in height. The average Indri, however, tends to be between 23.62 inches and 31.69 inches tall with a tail of just 1.96 inches (all other Lemurs have tails that are around the same length as their bodies). The Indri is an animal with a dense coat of black silky fur with a varying number of white patches depending on the geographic region. Their toes and fingers are very dexterous and are good for grasping and their long hind legs aid them in leaping up to 10 meters between vertical branches in the forest. The yellow eyes of the Indri face forward to help them to judge the distance before making a jump.
Distribution And Habitat
The Indri, like all Lemurs, is only found on the island of Madagascar in tropical forests and lowland jungles. As arboreal animals, they spend the majority of their lives, sleeping, eating, and mating high up in the trees. Due to the increase in logging and the clearing of land for agriculture, the Indri is now only found in small areas of protected forest in Eastern Madagascar. Although exact numbers are not entirely clear, it is thought that there are less than 10,000 Indri left in Madagascar, which means that the species is severely threatened in its natural habitat.
Behavior And Lifestyle
The Indri is a sociable animal, living in small family units of between 2 – 6 individuals, that consists of a male and female pair with their young. In the primate family, the Lemur is unique because it is the females who are the dominant sex, which means they feed first while the males defend their territory. Indris have a loud communication system. They call to each other through a series of eerie wails, both to unite families and also to mark their territory, which can be heard up to 1.25 miles away. They also urinate along borders to mark out their patch. Lemurs have an excellent sense of smell which enables them to sniff out these markings easily and they can avoid confrontation.
Reproduction And Life Cycles
Indri indri with smiling baby – infants cling onto their mother’s belly for the first few months of life.
Females Indris don’t tend to reach sexual maturity until they are 8 or 9 years old when they are able to have one infant every two or three years. The babies are usually born in May or June after a gestation period of between 4 and 5 months. The Indri infant clings onto the belly of its mother for the first few months of life, when it then moves around onto her back. By the time Indri babies are around 8 months old, they are independent of their mother but generally remain with her until the age of 2 or 3. Sadly, half of all Indri babies are thought to die before the age of 2, usually due to sickness or injury. Although adult Indris have been known to get well into their twenties, most live for between 15 and 18 years.
Diet And Prey
The Indri is an herbivorous and folivorous animal, unlike many other primates that will eat almost everything they see. Indris are diurnal animals and are most active during the day which is when they hunt for food, both on the ground and in the trees. When it comes to eating, females get to choose first and seem to have a greater preference for younger leaves than males, which they are often found foraging for. These young leaves make up a vast majority of the Indri’s diet along with seeds, flowers, and fruits. It is thought that the Indri has a diet that is predominantly made up of vegetation that comes from the trees but they are known to eat a wide variety of plant matter.
Predators And Threats
Indris are thought to have different danger signals for each predator.
©nomis-simon / Creative Commons
Since the Indri lives high up in the trees, it is generally safe from many ground-dwelling predators, although there are a number of animals that have no issues reaching where the Indri is. The native puma-like giant mongoose, the Fossa is the main predator of the Indri. Incredibly agile and primarily a tree-dwelling mammal, it has evolved to catch Lemurs. Other predators of the Indri include large birds of prey like hawks, and reptiles, including the boa constrictor, all of which the Indri are thought to have different danger signals for. One of the largest threats to the population of the Indri is habitat loss, as hundreds of acres of natural habitat are being cleared daily.
Interesting Facts And Features
The largest existing Lemur today, the Indri is most closely related to the more primitive primate species which includes Bushbabies, Lorises, and Pottos. Despite the fact that there are over 100 species of Lemurs and their sub-species found today, the Indri is the only remaining species in its genus. Before deforestation ravaged the island, it is believed that there was a different population of Indri that occupied nearly every ridge in the eastern forests of Madagascar. The Indri has a different color that varies throughout populations, with individuals located further south thought to have more patches of white, while those geographically north tend to be darker.
Relationship With Humans
Until industry started to take an interest in Madagascar’s natural resources, the Indri seemed to have a relatively peaceful relationship with the native people and were not eaten by them. Today however, reports of non-locals hunting the Indri are of great concern to conservationists, particularly at a time when populations are being so devastatingly affected by the destruction of their natural environments. Indri populations are now thought to be drastically low, as the Indri can only be found in protected forest regions (where logging and land devastation still occurs).
Conservation Status And Life Today
While the exact number of Indri inhabiting Madagascar today is not clear, it is believed that there are only up to 10,000 individuals left in the wild. However, there are other estimates that prove more concerning and claim that there may be as few as 1,000 Indri left. As of now, they are a protected species with the listing as critically endangered. Unfortunately, the Indri does not do well in captivity so any captive breeding programs to try and rehabilitate the dying populations are not likely to be successful.View all 39 animals that start with I
Indri FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are Indris herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?
Indris are Herbivores, meaning they eat plants.
What Kingdom do Indris belong to?
Indris belong to the Kingdom Animalia.
What phylum to Indris belong to?
Indris belong to the phylum Chordata.
What family do Indris belong to?
Indris belong to the family Indriidae.
What order do Indris belong to?
Indris belong to the order Primates.
What type of covering do Indris have?
Indris are covered in Fur.
What genus do Indris belong to?
Indris belong to the genus Indri.
Where do Indris live?
Indris live in eastern Madagascar.
In what type of habitat do Indris live?
Indris live in lowland rainforests.
What are some predators of Indris?
Predators of Indris include fossas, hawks, and snakes.
What are some distinguishing features of Indris?
Indris have black and white markings and loud, prolonged vocal calls.
How many babies do Indris have?
The average number of babies an Indri has is 1.
What is an interesting fact about Indris?
Indris are the largest species of Lemur!
What is the scientific name for the Indri?
The scientific name for the Indri is Indri indri.
What is the lifespan of an Indri?
Indris can live for 15 to 22 years.
How many species of Indri are there?
There is 1 species of Indri.
What is the biggest threat to the Indri?
The biggest threat to the Indri is habitat loss.
What is another name for the Indri?
The Indri is also called the babakoto.
How many Indris are left in the world?
There are 10,000 Indris left in the world.
How fast is an Indri?
An Indri can travel at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.
How to say Indri in ...
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
- Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
- David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
- Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species
- David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
- Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals
- David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) The Encyclopedia Of Mammals
- Indri Conservation, Available here: http://www.edgeofexistence.org/mammals/species_info.php?id=36
- About Primates, Available here: http://www.primates.com/primate/index.html
- Indri Behaviour, Available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Indri
- Indri Habitat, Available here: http://www.animalinfo.org/species/primate/indrindr.htm
- Indri Rehabilitation, Available here: http://www.animalinfo.org/species/primate/indrindr.htm