Aye-ayer on a tree. By Anna Veselova | Shutterstock.com
Aye-ayer on a tree. By Anna Veselova | Shutterstock.com

About the aye-aye.

It is a nocturnal and solitary species of lemur. During the day they sleep in nests they build out of leaves and twigs hidden in the dense foliage of trees.


They have continually growing incisors (like rodents), which they use to gnaw through the bark of trees to feed on the insect larvae under it.


One of the fingers is thinner and longer than the rest. They use it as a hook to extract larvae from the holes in the trees with their teeth. They also use it to scoop the flesh out of fruit.


Curiously, because of its ability to extract larvae from trees using its finger, it fills the ecological niche of woodpeckers.


In Madagascar it is believed that there is an “evil spirit” within the animal and that an aye-aye can curse a person by pointing at them with its unique finger. This led to many of them being killed on sight. The loss of habitat and hunting are the main threats to the survival of the aye-aye on this large island.


The aye-aye is the world’s largest nocturnal primate.


Despite being solitary animals, they interact peacefully with one another (except during the mating season) and they hardly ever defend their territory by fighting. The aye-aye marks its territory with the scent glands on its cheeks and neck. The scent repels intruders from their territory.


Females take care of their babies, carrying them on her back until they are 13 months.


In order to locate larvae, they tap on trees with their long middle finger and listen for the echoing sounds with their large ears. This process, called percussive foraging, is how they locate the wood cavities where larvae live to extract them.


The aye-aye is the only remaining member of its genus (Daubentonia).


They spend their lives in trees and avoid coming down to the ground, where they are much more vulnerable.


The aye-aye can become very aggressive during the mating season. Fighting over a female, a male can attack the other male and take the female away.

Aye-aye, nocturnal lemur of Madagascar. By javarman | Shutterstock.com
Aye-aye, nocturnal lemur of Madagascar. By javarman | Shutterstock.com
COMMON NAMECONSERVATION STATUS
Aye-ayeEndarenged
SCIENTIFIC NAMESIZE
Daubentonia madagascarensis92-104 cm (36-41 in)
FAMILYWEIGHT
Daubentoniidae2 kg (4 lb)
ORDERLIFESPAN
Primates23 years
CLASSGESTATION PERIOD
Mammalia166 days
POPULATIONDIET
Unknown, but decreasingThey most commonly feed on fruits and insect larvae.
HABITATRANGE
Tree tops of tropical forests trees.Tropical forest that covers the east of Madagascar.

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