Image for Smelly lemurs

Smelly lemurs

Duration: 03:16

Smell is of particular importance to the primates of Madagascar: the lemurs. Ring-tailed lemurs have pointed snouts and wet noises, and the males have sharp pads on their wrists with which they scratch the trunks of young trees. Also on their wrists are glands which they use to impregnate the bark with a pungent smell that acts as a territorial marker. Females, on the other hand, leave a different scent, one which tells males that they're coming into heat. But as a female will only be receptive for about 24 hours, tensions soon run high amongst the males. As scraps break out, some of the males sneak off and try to get to the receptive female. Adding wrist gland perfume to their tail, they waft their odour in the female's direction. It seems to have the right effect as the deed is soon done.

Available since: Wed 9 Dec 2009


David Attenborough
Patrick Morris
Executive Producer
Michael Gunton

This clip is from

Life Primates

10/10 Primates are just like humans - intelligent, quarrelsome, family-centred.

First broadcast: 14 Dec 2009

Image for Primates Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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