How Much Does a Lemur Cost?

Last Updated on February 4, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Owning a lemur as an exotic pet is an appealing idea for some, but there are many factors to consider. This article will provide an overview of lemurs as pets, discuss the costs involved, and look at the legal, ethical, and practical considerations.

Lemurs are primates native to the island of Madagascar. Their unique appearance and behaviors make them desirable to some as pets. However, lemurs have very specific needs in terms of social structures, environment, nutrition, and healthcare. Meeting these requirements demands a major commitment in time, effort, and finances.

How Much Does a Lemur Cost?

The upfront cost to purchase a lemur from a reputable exotic animal breeder can range from $2,000-$6,000 depending on factors like:

  • Species – The roughly 100 lemur species vary in price based on rarity and demand. The most affordable options are ring-tailed and red ruffed lemurs at $2,000-$4,000. Rarer black and white ruffed lemurs cost $4,000-$6,000.
  • Age – Baby lemurs under one-year-old are generally the most expensive at $4,000-$6,000. The cost goes down for juveniles and older lemurs.
  • Source – Captive-bred lemurs from accredited breeders are safest and start around $4,000. Rescues are cheaper but may have health issues.

Illegal wild-caught lemurs should be avoided as they harm conservation efforts and risk disease. But their lower cost of $500-$2,000 tempts unethical buyers. writes that the cost of less common lemur species, such as ruffed lemurs, is reported to start around $4,500, but the price can exceed $6,000.

According to Duke Lemur Center, it costs them $8,400 per year to properly care for one lemur, emphasizing the high cost and the unsuitability of lemurs as pets due to their wild nature and the expenses involved in their care.

Janda Exotics offers lemurs for sale and the price of a brown lemur male baby is listed as $6,500. reports higher prices than other websites. According to them, the cost of purchasing a ring-tailed lemur from “reputable breeders” is between $2,500 and $10,000. Additionally, it is highlighted that the cost of caring for a lemur over its lifetime can exceed $200,000.

Legal Aspects and Licensing

Lemurs are wild animals. Exotic pet ownership laws vary greatly by state. Some states like California ban lemur ownership completely. Others require permits and licensing, costing $200-$500 initially and $50+ annually.

Proper research is critical to follow all state and local exotic pet regulations. Failure to comply can result in heavy fines and forced surrender of the lemur.

Captivity Habitat Setup and Maintenance

Lemurs need large, enriched spaces mimicking their natural forest environment. Minimum enclosure sizes start at 7’ x 5’ x 7’ for one lemur, but larger is ideal. The initial cost for quality habitat construction ranges from $2,000-$4,000. Necessities include:

  • Sturdy materials (welded wire, wood, PVC)
  • Entry/exit doors
  • Climbing structures, ropes, branches
  • Nesting boxes
  • Substrate (dirt, mulch)
  • Plantings/greenery

Ongoing maintenance to keep their habitat clean, safe, and engaging has monthly costs of $200-$500. Daily enrichment with new sights, sounds, and smells is vital for their wellbeing.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a monkey, a finger monkey, or a sugar glider.

Feeding a Lemur’s Specialized Diet

Lemurs are folivores who eat mostly plant matter. Their specialized diet requires:

  • High-quality monkey chow/primate biscuits ($40-$60 monthly)
  • Diverse fresh produce – fruits, veggies, leaves ($100-$150 monthly)
  • Occasional insects for protein ($20 monthly)
  • Foraging supplements (seeds, nuts, grains)
  • Fresh water always available

This species-appropriate nutrition provides what captive lemurs need but results in food costs of $150-$250 per month. Their diet needs monitoring for weight and health.

Healthcare, Veterinary Care and Insurance

Exotic vets with primate experience are essential for checkups ($200-$400 annually), vaccines ($100-$300), and any medical issues. Older lemurs often incur dental work, joint supplements, and chronic condition costs.

Emergencies like illness or injury can easily cost $2000+ for intensive treatment. Exotic pet insurance helps offset medical costs with monthly premiums of $80-$150. Annual limits and co-pays still apply but can save thousands over a lemur’s lifespan.

Enrichment and Social Needs

Lemurs are highly active and social animals. Keeping lemurs solitary in captivity risks physical and psychological harm. Most experts recommend keeping lemurs in pairs or groups. Long-term costs for properly enriching and socializing lemurs include:

  • Structured playtime and interaction daily
  • A large habitat with visual/auditory stimulation
  • Rotate novel toys, puzzles and devices ($50-$150 monthly)
  • Social companions of the same species if possible

Meeting their complex social needs takes extensive time, effort and money. It’s critical for their welfare.

Long Lifespans Increase Long-Term Costs

In captivity with proper care, lemurs can live over 20 years. Their long lifespans mean owning a lemur requires at least a 20-year commitment and financial plan. Expenses add up quickly over decades, making lemurs a very costly exotic pet compared to shorter-lived animals.

Unexpected health issues, emergencies, equipment/housing repairs quickly become expensive as lemurs age. Annual costs exceeding $5,000+ per lemur over their lifetime are realistic with high-quality care. Few owners are prepared for the extensive effort and money required to properly care for lemurs over their long lifespans.

Conservation and Ethical Considerations

Lemur in the WildLemurs are endangered in the wild, so captive lemur ownership raises conservation concerns. Breeders who profit from lemurs as pets remain controversial. Some believe it encourages poaching and illegal trade threatening wild lemurs.

That said, accredited facilities adhering to strict breeding protocols can help maintain genetic diversity. But lower standards in the exotic pet industry make it difficult to ensure lemurs originate from officially sanctioned captive breeding programs rather than the illegal pet trade. Those considering lemurs must research breeder credentials rigorously.

Owners should also contribute to wild lemur conservation initiatives. Donating even 5-10% of the money spent on a pet lemur to rehabilitation and breeding programs in Madagascar provides meaningful support to protect wild populations.

Alternatives to Ownership

For those passionate about lemurs who don’t wish to or can’t own one as a pet, there are impactful alternatives:

  • Donating to reputable sanctuaries and rescues that take in abandoned lemurs
  • Volunteering at accredited zoos assisting with lemur exhibits and education programs
  • Supporting conservation organizations working to protect lemurs’ natural habitats
  • Visiting lemur ecotourism sites and reserves ethically managed in Madagascar
  • Fostering/adopting a lemur already in captivity in need of a home

These options allow people to help lemurs meaningfully without the demands, difficulties, and ethics of private exotic pet ownership.


Lemurs may seem like appealing exotic pets, but the complexities and costs involved mean they are unrealistic companions for most owners. From initial purchase prices starting around $4,000 to lifetime care expenses exceeding $100,000, lemurs are a multi-decade financial commitment requiring specialized knowledge and facilities. Their advanced social and welfare needs also present challenges.

For lemur lovers not prepared to meet these extensive requirements, there are impactful alternatives. With conservation-minded choices, people can positively support lemur wellbeing and populations without pet ownership. Those absolutely set on lemurs should thoroughly research what’s involved and prepare themselves accordingly before embarking on this immense, costly undertaking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a lemur a good pet?

No, lemurs generally make poor pets. Their highly complex social, mental, and physical needs combined with costly care requirements exceed what most people can realistically provide.

Hand-rearing of lemurs disrupts normal social development. Solitary lemurs often develop behavioral problems. While their intelligence and playfulness appeal to some, lemurs do not thrive as pets.

Their welfare is best provided by conservation breeding programs, sanctuaries and zoos with special expertise in lemur care. This is why you shouldn’t get a lemur as a pet.

Can lemurs live alone?

Lemurs are inherently social animals that naturally live in complex family groups and communities. Keeping a lemur alone in captivity is widely considered inhumane and damaging to their psychology.

Lemurs kept singly often show distress behaviors and struggle to develop normally. Some US states now legally mandate keeping lemurs in pairs/groups. Reputable facilities house lemurs socially to meet their enrichment and companionship needs most ethically.

Do lemurs smell?

Like any animal, lemurs do produce natural odors. Proper hygiene and habitat maintenance are very to limiting smell. Their scent glands and urine can smell strong, especially during breeding season.

Lemur feces and food waste also require diligent cleaning. Overall, a well-cared-for lemur’s smell is usually not excessive with proper precautions, but they do require constant upkeep to control odors in captivity.

Their scent and cleanliness needs factor into whether lemurs make suitable pets for owners.

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