Soil Consumption of Two Groups of Semi-free-ranging Lemurs {Lemur catta and Lemur fulvus)


Abt. Verhaltensphysiologie der Universität Tübingen, Beim Kupferhammer 8, D-7400 Tübingen.


Soil consumption of two Malagasy lemurs, Lemur catta and Lemur fulvus was observed in an enclosure simulating a natural habitat at Duke University Primate Center (Durham, USA). Soil eaten by L. catta contained more Na than random soil samples. Concentrations of the four major minerals in soil eaten by L. fulvus did not differ from random samples. L. fulvus stopped soil ingestion in summer when they ate large amounts of foliage rich in K and Mg, also in winters after being fed with MgCl2. It is suggested that, in this study, soil was consumed in relation to its mineral content and not for physical properties related to its structure. Some non physiological factors that might influence food selection are discussed.