As dictated to Lynne Venart and David Brown
Howdy! Doug Beetle here. Today I’m canoeing along Madagascar’s largest lake, Lake Alaotra. On the way here, I’ve passed many rice fields and saw farmers working in their fields. Rice is the favorite food of many Malagasy people, and this region is very important because it grows rice for the whole country.
My reason for coming here is to meet a creature called a bamboo lemur and ask it a question about its diet. The problem is, I’m not finding any bamboo around this lake. I was told there were bamboo lemurs around here, but how can there be any bamboo lemurs without bamboo?
Wait a minute, that looks like a lemur over there now in those reeds along the lake.
Doug Beetle: Howdy!
Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur: CHOMP. CHOMP. CHOMP. MMMMHMMHMM.
Doug Beetle: I’m sorry, I can’t understand anything that you are saying.
Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur: Oh sorry, I was trying to say hello with a mouth full of food. You caught me at breakfast.
Doug Beetle: No problem! I’m looking for a bamboo lemur. Do you know of any around here? I’m told that there are 112 different species of lemurs that live on Madagascar, and that bamboo lemurs live somewhere around this lake, but I’m not seeing any bamboo.
Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur: Surprise! I’m a bamboo lemur! My ancestors got to this lake and liked it so much that they decided to live here. The problem was that there was no bamboo. They adapted to eating the reeds here around the lake, and now that is our main diet.
Fun fact: I am named after this lake that you are canoeing on. I’m the Lac Alaotra gentle lemur. Some people call me Hapalemur griseus alaotrensis. That’s my fancy name. People that live around here call me Bandro.
Doug Beetle: Howdy, Bandro. I was wondering how your cousins eat bamboo, because I was reading that it is full of enough poison called cyanide that it could kill most animals.
Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur: Yes, those are our crazy cousins over in the forests. They have learned how to eat cyanide in the bamboo and digest it so that it doesn’t kill them. We don’t have that problem with these the papyrus reeds that grow in this lake, and they are really tasty. Our cousins have special ways of digesting cyanide and they also pee some of it out of their systems. They are one of the few animals in the world that can eat bamboo. We don’t have that problem with these reeds!
Doug Beetle: Nice to meet you, Bandro. Thanks for answering my question about how the bamboo lemurs handle the cyanide in their food.
Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur: You’re welcome. Would you like a papyrus breakfast sandwich? I was just about to go to brunch here in the reeds.
Doug Beetle: Thanks for the offer, but I need to keep moving around the lake here. Nice to meet you, Bandro!
Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur: Nice to meet you too, Doug! Enjoy your day canoeing!