If you watch the Madagascar series, you would probably remember Mort and his obsession with King Julien’s feet. We can probably guess that Mort is some kind of monkey, but what animal is Mort really?
Mort is a mouse lemur, a species of mouse lemur available only around the region of Andasibe, eastern Madagascar. Mouse lemurs are types of primates, which could also include animals such as lorises, gorillas, and humans. Similar to Mort, a mouse lemur is mainly maroon in color, with some orange on the back.
This article will explore Goodman’s mouse lemur, including their status as wild animals. We will also see if they will make a good pet at home.
What Kind Of Animal Is Mort?
Mort is a Goodman’s Mouse Lemur. It is part of the Mouse Lemur species, around only the region of Andasibe, eastern Madagascar. It is one of the tiniest primates, with an adult reaching an average size of 45-48 grams (1.6-17 oz). They have a tail that can store fat for winter.
The name ‘Goodman’ is given in honor of primatologist Steven M. Goodman. In the native language of Malagasy, the Goodman’s Mouse Lemur is “Lehilahytsara,” which coincidentally means “good” and “man.”
The Goodman’s Mouse Lemur is one of the smallest primates around. Generally, an adult Goodman Lemur would reach only 45-48 grams (1.6-17 oz) and about 3.6 inches (92MM). Males are usually slightly larger than females.
Appearance-wise, the Goodman’s Mouse Lemur does look like Mort in the animation. Most of the body is maroon and brownish in color, with a white underbelly. The back also carries a slight orange tint. It also has a tail that can store fat for winter torpor.
Winter torpor happens when an animal lowers its heart and respiratory rate to the point where it saves energy, but not to the point of hibernation. Males are more likely to enter torpor than females, although not all Goodman’s Mouse Lemur enter torpor state every winter.
Despite Goodman’s Mouse Lemur being small, they surprisingly are very individual animals, preferring to spend their time alone. You may only see them together with another mouse lemur during mating. When encountering each other, they may be aggressive, getting into fights. Fighting tends to be related to protecting their territory or fighting over mates.
In the wild, Goodman’s Mouse Lemurs feed on insects, fruits, flowers, nectar, gum, and leaves. It is also a nocturnal animal, active at night instead of during the day.
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Are Goodman’s Mouse Lemur Endangered?
Goodman’s Mouse Lemur is an endangered species with a decreasing wild population. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List indicated the animal as ‘Vulnerable’ in 2018. It is two levels above the least dangerous status, ‘Least Concerned.’
Goodman’s Mouse Lemur is not immediately threatened as a species. Still, its numbers are decreasing in the wild and may be vulnerable. Suppose you observe the listing of Goodman’s Mouse Lemur on The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) website. In that case, it is listed as ‘vulnerable.’
The IUCN has a red list that judges animal species’ status. Arranged from least likely to extinct to already extinct, these categories are:
- Least Concerned
- Near Threatened
- Critically Endangered
- Extinct In The Wild
Judging from its position, the Goodman’s Mouse Lemur is not immediately threatened. However, the IUCN does report that its numbers are decreasing in the wild.
Deforestation seems to play a significant part in their dropping numbers and hunting by the local population. Some are also caught and sold overseas, often illegally.
Can You Own A Mouse Lemur In The US?
Some states in the US allow lemurs as pets. However, some counties within these states do not allow it. For example, although Missouri allows lemurs, they are banned in the city of St. Louis. However, since lemurs are endangered animals, owning them as pets is still not a good idea.
A mouse lemur is a type of lemur, which means you may consider the present law on lemurs to apply to mouse lemurs as well. If you live in these states, it may be legal to own a lemur as a pet:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
You may still want to check with the relevant authorities to confirm this. Some states may allow you to keep a mouse lemur, but there are jurisdictions within the state that do not allow pet mouse lemurs. For example, the state of Missouri allows you to keep a mouse lemur. However, the animal is banned in the city of St. Louis.
However, even if you are legally allowed to own a mouse lemur, you might want to rethink the decision. This is because mouse lemurs are endangered animals, and owning them as pets can be a little iffy. In fact, owning an endangered animal as a pet might not sit well in many people’s stomachs.
By owning an endangered animal as a pet, you might be indirectly supporting the industry that is endangering them in the first place. These mouse lemurs may be caught in the wild or bred in inhuman conditions.
Are Mouse Lemurs Safe Pets?
In general, mouse lemurs do not make good pets for various reasons. They are endangered animals, wild and undomesticated, they can be stinky, healthcare may be difficult, and caring for them can be challenging.
If you are mesmerized by how cute Mort was and want for yourself a mouse lemur, think again. The actual mouse lemurs differ significantly from Mort in their status, behavior, and requirements.
Mouse Lemurs Are Wild Animals
Mouse lemurs are wild animals and have never had a history of domestication and being tamed, unlike home pets such as dogs and cats. As a result, their behavior and demeanor may not be predictable.
Wild animals may also not live well outside of their habitat. This means in the case of Goodman’s Mouse Lemurs, trying to raise them in, say, Montana may also cause them to not adapt well, can this may also be likely to cause them to misbehave.
You might have seen some wild animals being affectionate with their owners, such as bears, snakes, or lions. However, these animals are still wild, and their instincts may take over at any time.
The best example is Mantecore, a white tiger. Despite having lived with humans its whole life, even being bottle-fed as a cub, it still suddenly attacked its handler Roy Horn in 2003. The attack eventually paralyzed Roy and ended his career.
Mouse Lemurs Are Hard To Care For
Unlike popular pet animals such as dogs, cats, or fish, it may be hard to get the right information and support to care for a mouse lemur.
For example, if you purchased a mouse lemur at a whim, you may be a little puzzled about what to feed it. A Google search may solve this issue, but do not be surprised by how clueless some people can be. There have been cases of lemurs being fed ice cream, pizza, and even bacon.
Finding the right veterinarian to provide healthcare may also be hard if your mouse lemur gets sick. In general, most veterinarians can provide an excellent job on common animals. However, not all may be able to help with exotic animals.
Mouse lemurs are a unique species of animals from Madagascar, which means they are not just exotic but very exotic animals. If you live in a small town, you may need to be prepared to drive far to access the right vet for your mouse lemur.
Even if you are willing to, you may need to plan to prepare to go through tons of paperwork to bring along your pet lemur to travel long distances. Not all states allow them, so if you plan to travel across states, you must spend time and effort figuring out and preparing the paperwork.
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Mouse Lemurs Can Stink
Another issue to contend with caring for them is that they can stink. Mouse lemurs may not be able to be potty trained since they are wild animals. They also tend to have feces with a strong odor.
On top of that, mouse lemurs mark territories with their scent, usually by rubbing it on trees. If kept at home, they will also scent, or shall we say, stink up your couch or door.
Mouse Lemurs Can Spread Disease To You
Mouse lemurs are primates, which means they are distant cousins to us human beings. This means there are some genetic similarities between us and mouse lemurs, and they may pass diseases to us.
Primates have been known to pass diseases such as HIV to humans. Less serious ones may also pass from them to us, such as viral or bacterial infections such as tuberculosis and giardia. You may be infected by the exchange of body fluid such as fecal matter or by breathing the same air.