This is a primarily insectivorous species which also consumes fruits, flowers, leaves, and small vertebrates. The insects the species was found to consume include beetles, moths, praying mantids, Fulgorid bugs, and archnids such as spiders (Martin, 1972). One interesting food source this species consumes is the secretions from the Homopteran larvae, Flatidia coccinea (Corbin and Schmid, 1995). These larvae group together on tree branches to resemble flowers, a form of cryptic mimicry. The larvae are also most abundant during the dry season, when other food sources for the gray mouse lemur are absent (Corbin and Schmid, 1995). The distribution of these insect larvae also affect the distribution of females, in that the insects are more abundant on the forest edge rather than in the interior and it has been shown that females shift their ranging behavior in the dry season to the forest edge to feed on the secretions (Corbin and Schmid, 1995). The gray mouse lemur will eat the leaves of Uapaca sp. (Martin, 1972). This is a nocturnal and an arboreal species. During the dry season this species undergoes a period of dormancy but not as extreme as the Cheirogaleus species (Martin, 1972). Males tend to undergo dormancy for 2 months less than females (Schmid and Kappeler, 1998). Femlaes with a low body mass before the dry season are less likely to hibernate (Ganzhorn and Schmid, 1998). This species lives in the fine branch niche, which is a dense foliage zone with a large numbers of fine branches and narrow lianes (Martin, 1972). This species can be found in two different types of nests during the daytime: 1. tree-hollows and 2. leaf-nests (Martin, 1972). Tree-hollows include a platform of leaves and debris at the base and is the most frequent kind of nest used, and the leaf-nest is a spherical mass wedged between fine branches made up of leafs and containing a central chamber with a lateral entrance (Martin, 1972). Leaf-nests are used only when tree-hollows are not available (Martin, 1972). Tree-hollows are also most favorable because they provide better insulation and allow the individual to save energy (Schmid, 1998). The best (in terms of greatest insulating capacity) trees to use were living trees (Schmid, 1998). The tree hollows of females were found to higher above ground, have a larger volume, and have walls of the tree hollows which were thicker than the tree hollows occupied by males (Radespiel et al., 1998). The reason for females having the better tree hollows might be because of intersexual resource competition tied into female dominance (Radespiel et al., 1998). Males tend to nest alone or in pairs and females are found in large aggregations (Martin, 1972). The females in groups separate during the night to forage solitarily (Martin, 1972). It has been found that females nesting groups gain an advantage in saving energy by having a lower Resting Metabolic Rate when nesting groups (Perret, 1998). Individuals can reduce their metabolic costs by 40% if they nest in a group of three or more (Perret, 1998).
Among the species that prey upon the gray mouse lemur includes: Henst's goshawks, Accipiter henstii, a colubrid snake, Ithycyphys miniatus, a boa, Sanzinia madagascariensis, barn owl, Tyto alba, Madagascar long-eared owl, Asio madagascariensis, and two carnivores Cryptoprocta ferox and Mungotictis decemlineata (Goodman et al., 1993). Cryptoprocta ferox and Mungotictis decemlineata both were found to have preyed upon the gray mouse lemur whilest they were in their day nests (Goodman et al., 1993).
[Gray Mouse Lemur]
Last Updated: October 9, 2003.
[Primate Fact Sheets]