Body Mass Almost Doubles Before Hibernation

During hibernation C. medius do not feed and rely entirely on their endogenous fat reserves. Typical for a hibernating species, they exhibit remarkable prehiber-nation fattening during the period of food abundance from March until May (Figure 3) and adults may double their body mass during this time (from about 130 g to over 250 g; Fietz and Ganzhorn, 1999; Fietz et al., 2003). Part of the fat is stored within the tail, which swells from 10 ml to approximately 50 ml in volume, giving the fat-tailed dwarf lemur its name (Petter et al., 1977; Hladik etal., 1980).

In order to accumulate these fat deposits, different strategies are feasible, by which either energy intake is maximized, or energy expenditure minimized. C. medius seem to employ both methods. They feed generally on flowers, nectar, fruits, gum, seeds, insects, and spiders. The proportion of animal prey varies seasonally, depending on availability, and comprises about one-fifth of the diet. During the period of extreme fat accumulation before the onset of hibernation,

Figure 2. Seasonal temporal patterns in adult Cheirogaleus medius in Kirindy forest. Black bars: time of hibernation; dark gray bars: variability of immergence and emergence, and occurrence of daily torpor; hatched bar: prehibernation fattening period; striped bar: time of birth (variability between years).


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