On the morning of July 15, 2023, the Duke Lemur Center’s animal caretakers found that fat-tailed dwarf lemur Dominique Chicken had given birth in her nest box overnight to twins, a few days earlier than expected! Eider, the male infant, was born at 21.2 grams, and his sister Wigeon was born at 17.3 grams. Both mom Dominique Chicken and dad Goose are first-time parents.
All dwarf lemurs at the DLC are provided with a wide variety of nest boxes, including PVC tubes, wooden boxes, and suspended enrichment boxes, all suitable for sleeping and raising young. Mothers give birth in the nest boxes and generally will keep their infants hidden inside these shelters. If they need to move their offspring, they do so by carrying them in their mouths. Dwarf lemur offspring of up to three weeks of age are transported by their mother in this fashion.
At the DLC, fat-tailed dwarf lemurs are named after birds. Dominique Chicken comes from a family commonly referred to as “The Chickens.” All of the offspring of dad Domestic Chicken and mom Raven have been named after different chicken species, Dominique included. Dominique’s twins, Wigeon and Eider, share their names with types of ducks.
Dwarf lemurs breed at the DLC from mid-April through July, and gestation is only around 60 days. Fat-tailed dwarf lemurs commonly have litters of two or more offspring. Of the 168 fat-tailed dwarf lemurs born at the DLC from our founding through July 2019, 10% were singletons, 38% were twins, 35% were triplets, and 17% were quadruplets.