Ring-tailed Lemurs

lemur sketch

Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre, Heckmondwike, 11.15 a.m.: One of the ring-tailed lemurs is keeping an eye on the silver fox in the next enclosure. It backs up to a post and scent-marks with its anal gland, rubbing against the timber, then turns around to check, pressing its nose close to the spot.

It relaxes with a little grooming and pauses to watch a bit of thistledown drift up in front of it.

A male settles down to take a look out of the far corner of the enclosure. Soon the female comes over and displaces him and he climbs out of her way instantly, without any dispute. Lemur society is matriarchal.

One of the females does a handstand to leave her scent mark on a post but I get the impression that it’s mainly the males who act as look-outs for the group. They’re the ones getting up on their hind legs at the back of the enclosure staring at me as if they’re thinking ‘What’s he up to?’

There are four or five lemurs in the Ponderosa group.

The males appear to have scent glands on the inside of their wrists. Often when a male sits looking out of the enclosure at me or the other visitors, he’ll rub the end of his tail between his wrists. I don’t think that I saw a female do this; females seem more likely to use their anal glands for scent-marking.

It’s surprising how long they are when they stand on their hind legs or when they jump up onto the the mesh at the front of the cage, apparently to challenge me.

When one of the lemurs yawns, the shape of its jaw reminds me of that of a dog. In the brief glimpse that I get of its teeth, I think that I can see a pair of small canines at the front of the jaw.

Their feet look rather like hands. They bound around balletically with backs alternately arched then stretched.

I made a couple of quick colour notes then added the watercolour as we waited for our lunch. It was surprising how ochre, grey and black, plus a spot of dull amber for the eyes, brought the drawings to life.

As you can see, with these visual notes; I was observing behaviour rather than trying to complete a portrait of a particular animal.


Ponderosa Centre

The origins of place names in the Huddersfield area, including Heckmondwike


IT’S A WINDY, RAINY day so we’re delighted to find that the South American Tapir, Tapirus terrestris, here at the Ponderosa Rare Breeds Farm, Heckmondwike, has ventured out of his shelter. He immediately ambles over to snuffle at us when we arrive. On a summer visit 18 months ago, he stayed in the shade of his shelter all afternoon and I didn’t get chance to draw him so I make a few quick sketches in the drizzle adding the colour later from a Googled photograph, and from memory, as the photograph didn’t quite coincide with the browny grey or ‘dull chestnut’ that I’d made a mental note of.

There’s also time to draw one of the busy band of Meerkats, Suricata suricata, which are chattering and burbling in their enclosure.

I get the opportunity in the Reptile House to hold a North American Corn Snake, also known as the Red Ratsnake, Pantherophis guttatus, (from its grey-brown colour, I guess that this was the Midwestern subspecies Elaphe guttata emoryi). Its scales are softer than I expected, despite being cold-blooded its warmer than the ambient temperature (it has probably been in a warm spot in its vivarium) and it feels stoutly muscular when it pushes itself into my armpit. It gives the impression of being completely relaxed and confident as I support it; it’s used to being handled. I also briefly have a female Australian Bearded Lizard, a.k.a. Central Bearded Dragon, Pogona vitticeps, resting on my shoulder. She appears briefly in a marker pen sketch on my page on the Animated Yorkshire workshop that I took part in here in 2010.

We’ll be back at the Ponderosa in May for the wedding reception of one of our god-daughters, otherwise we might never have thought of heading out here for our coffee/extended to lunch break.

We’ll certainly be coming back, hopefully on a drier when we’ve got a bit more time but even on a day like today, it’s a change from the coffee shops and restaurants in shopping centres, garden centres and farm shops that we so often find ourselves at on our errands and book deliveries.

You wouldn’t expect to meet a Meerkat in the White Rose Centre or a Reindeer at the Redbrick Mill.

Link; Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre, Animated Yorkshire