A scoring system for coat and tail condition in ringtailed lemurs, Lemur catta



Coat condition can be influenced by a wide variety of disorders and thus provides a useful tool for noninvasive health and welfare assessments in wild and captive animals. Using Lemur catta as an exemplar, we offer a 6-step scoring system for coat and tail condition, ranging from perfectly fluffy to half or more of body and tail being hairless. The categories are described in detail and illustrated with sample pictures from a wild population in Berenty Reserve, Madagascar. Furthermore, we elaborate on intermediate conditions and discoloration of fur. Coat condition scoring allows the comparison between years, seasons, and the effect of toxin, disease or stress. Although this system was developed for wild L. catta, we believe it can also be of value for other species. We recommend scoring coat condition in healthy wild mammal populations to give a baseline on yearly and seasonal variations vs. deteriorating health conditions or pathology. Am. J. Primatol. 71:183–190, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.