Reproductive biology

In all dwarf and mouse lemurs, females show a clear-cut brief period of estrus. In the smaller species, a membrane seals the vulva most of the time. Estrus is marked by the swelling and opening of the vulva, and in some species a vaginal plug is formed after mating. Males actively pursue es-trous females in the trees, and in most or all species the male emits a specific mating call. In species with a multi-male/multi-female social system (e.g., Microcebus species), several males can mate with a female during estrus, and genetic tests have shown that different fathers may sire offspring in the same litter. The gestation period, lasting between two and three months according to species, is relatively short compared to other primates. All species typically rear their offspring in a nest. The smaller dwarf and mouse lemurs have multiple litters commonly containing two to three offspring, whereas the larger species usually have a single offspring. Suckling occurs relatively frequently during the night, so mothers must reduce their activity away from the nest for some weeks after birth. Strictly seasonal breeding is found in all species. Births typically take place during the wet season (October-March).

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