Top 7 Animals of Madagascar Island

A group of people on a beach near a body of water

Madagascar Island is a sovereign state in the Indian Ocean, about 500 kilometers off the coast of East Africa. The population of Madagascar was estimated at 14 million in 2018. It is the fourth most populous island in the world and is home to 5% of all plant and animal species found on Earth. Madagascar’s wildlife includes many lemurs, chameleons, and other unique creatures because it contains a wide variety of habitats. We have compiled a list of animals that live on this island that you should know about! Here are our top 7 animals from Madagascar Island.

1. Lemurs

A small grey animal

Madagascar island has a variety of animals which are unique to the area. One such animal is the madagascar lemur. These animals are classified as prosimians, meaning they are neither apes nor monkeys. They have large eyes and ears that make them look somewhat like teddy bears or raccoons, but their bodies are much thinner than those animals. The madagascan lemurs live in trees and spend most of their time eating leaves, fruit, flowers and insects from these trees. There are approximately 90 different madagascar lemurs species including black-and-white ruffed madagascan lemurs to ring-tailed madagascan lemurs with long tails used for balancing on branches high in the trees.

2. Chameleons

A close up of a lizard

The island country of Madagascar is home to a number of different animal species, some which are endemic and others which have been introduced by humans. One can find a large number of chameleons in this region with many different varieties coming from mainland Africa or from the Eastern part. The Chamaeleo madagascariensis, known as the veiled chameleon, is one such variety found on the island.

Chamaeleo madagascariensis live in a range of natural environments within Madagascar. These include dry areas which receive less than 100 millimetres of rainfall per year, humid forest areas that receive more than 1,000 millimeters of rain annually but with extended periods without rain and up to 460 meters of elevation.

They are found in various locations including in the district of Antsiranana, northern Madagascar. Averaging about 70 centimeters by their first year, they can grow to an average size of 30 centimeters in length or more with females being significantly larger than males.

Chamaeleo madagascariensis are mainly nocturnal although they can be active during the day. They hunt for prey at night and typically feed on flying insects, small lizards, young chameleons and geckos. Like most other chameleon species, Chamaeleo madagascariensis has a long, prehensile tail that helps them climb trees and other vegetation.

They have a unique ability to change skin color as a means of communication. This is an important form of camouflage given that they can be preyed upon by numerous predators, especially birds. The veiled chameleon can take on different colors including black, green and yellow to blend in with its surroundings. If threatened, they may change their skin color to green or black with spikes appearing on their body.

Males have a pair of false eye spots which increase in size when they are excited and darken in color. Females lack these features and typically hide from danger while the male will display a predator in an attempt to ward it off. They typically live up to 10 years.

3. Madagascar Ground Gecko

The madagascar ground gecko is a large, terrestrial lizard found in the humid forests of madagascar island. They are nocturnal and their diet consists mainly of insects and other invertebrates, but they will also eat small vertebrates such as lizards and rodents if given the opportunity. The madagascar ground gecko has been classified as “vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List because its population is declining due to deforestation from slash-and-burn farming methods that have been introduced to madagascar island since humans arrived there 2000 years ago. However, this classification may be a false alarm: these geckos can live up to 15 years in captivity and do not reproduce well in captivity (only one litter of two to four young per female has ever been recorded in captivity). So it is very possible that the Madagascar ground gecko’s population decline from slash-and-burn farming techniques may have been overestimated.

In addition to being threatened by slash-and-burn farming, madagascar ground geckos are also captured and exported for the exotic pet trade, but are not recommended as pets because they have very specific humidity and temperature requirements.

4. Fossa

Fossa is a carnivorous mammal that lives on the island of madagascar. Fossas live in forests and dry scrubland, and their diet consists mainly of lemurs. They are also known to eat other small animals such as rodents, birds, bats, lizards and frogs. Fossas have been observed hunting via a “pounce” method where they wait for prey before jumping onto it from an elevated location such as a tree or rock outcrop. The fossil record indicates fossas lived on Madagascar at least 10 million years ago; however the species is thought to be descended from ancestors who rafted over from Africa 6-7 million years ago during periods when ocean levels were lower than at present (during ice ages). This would make fossa a member of the mongoose family, which is very closely related to the civet family. Fossas are solitary creatures and spend most of their time alone except during breeding season.

5. Aye-aye

The aye-aye is a nocturnal lemur that is found in rainforests, woodlands, and forests on the island of madagascar. They are threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation and fragmentation. The aye-aye has a long bushy tail and large ears. Aye-ayes usually stay up high in the trees and they also have very sharp claws for climbing. An aye-aye can be identified by their big eyes, narrow head with whiskers, and long bony fingers on both front and back hands that they use for tapping into hollow logs or buried animal nests to find grubs (larvae) or other invertebrates. This species can also be identified by their pointy teeth that are very good for chewing wood. The aye-aye has an extra long middle finger that can be used to extract grubs from deep within logs.

6. Red Ruffed Lemur

The Red Ruffed Lemur is a species of lemur that can be found in Madagascar. They are also known as the red-ruffed lemur and they belong to the family of Indriidae. The scientific name for this animal is Eulemur rubrigular, which means “red-throated madagascar lemur”.

The lifespan of these animals ranges from 12 to 18 years and on average, females live longer than males do. This animal has a large size with an overall weight between 2 and 3 kilograms (4.5 – 6 pounds). Within their range, these animals can occupy different habitats including lowland rainforest, montane forest or bamboo forest at altitudes ranging from 600 meters above sea level up to 1800 meters above sea level.

Since they are located in Madagascar, these animals have no natural predators because all the carnivores that were there had gone extinct. The main threat to these animals is habitat destruction that occurs due to deforestation for farming or other purposes. This happens when humans clear forests where the red ruffed lemurs live so they can use the area for farming or other purposes.

Another threat that these animals are facing is hunting by humans. Their meat is considered a delicacy and thus, people hunt them to sell their meat in local markets. These animals are also hunted due to fear of crop raiding which is common among many lemur species living on Madagascar Island.

The red ruffed lemur is considered a critically endangered species and it is represented by the red bars on IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) list. Their population is estimated to be between 5,000 and 10,000 individuals within their range.

7. The Madagascan Giant Hissing Cockroach

The madagascan Giant Hissing Cockroach is the largest species of cockroach in Madagascar. It can grow up to 10 cm (3.9 in) long and live for about 2 years. Like most other cockroaches, it prefers dark places like under logs or rocks or inside rotting wood, but will also come out during the day if there are food sources available to them. The madagascan Giant Hissing Cockroach’s diet consists mainly of decaying plant matter; specifically leaves, fruit peels and pieces of bark that have fallen from trees. They are preyed on by birds such as the Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher and mammals including shrews and tenrecs which they share their habitat with. Like other madagascan cockroaches, they are also capable of spraying defensive substances with their rears to ward off predators.

In Conclusion

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and has one of the most diverse animal populations. Many people don’t know that there are more than 200 types of mammals on this beautiful, remote island nation–a lot more than you would find at home!  Some notable animals found here include lemurs (those cute primates), tenrecs (those cute little hedgehog-like creatures) and fossas (those big cat-looking things). Madagascar also contains a number of endangered species including indri lemurs, greater bamboo lemurs and golden mantled sifakas. If you’re lucky enough to visit madagascar someday soon, take some time to enjoy these amazing animals while they still have a chance for survival!

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