Lemurs hug tree trunks to cool down when temperatures top 30°C

A type of lemur called a white sifaka embraces the base of some trees to release heat, with the bottom of the trunk being up to 5°C cooler than the surrounding air

Life 22 September 2022

Lemurs hugging trees to cool down on the Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve in southwest Madagascar

Lemurs hugging trees on the Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve in south-west Madagascar

Chloe Chen-Kraus

Lemurs seem to hug trees to keep cool on sweltering days.

Chloe Chen‑Kraus, affiliated with Yale University, and her colleagues noticed that in the Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve in south-west Madagascar, a type of lemur called the white sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) hugs the base of tree trunks on particularly hot days.

“When we first saw it, it was just so unusual because these are highly arboreal [tree-dwelling] primates,” she says.

With sifakas having fewer sweat glands than most …

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