aye ayeScientific Name– Daubentonia madagascariensis

Conservation Status– Endangered

Appearance

They aye aye has a coarse brown or black coat with white guard hairs throughout this. This allows them to blend into the forest. They have a pale face with large orange eyes. They have triangular ears which feel leathery and a pointed face with a pink nose. Their hands feature long and bony fingers that have a claw on the end. The middle On the middle finger of the front foot is a much longer double jointed toe with a hooked claw on the end. This is an adaptation allowing them to dig for grubs.

Head and body length for an aye aye is 36 to 43cm (14 to 17in) long. The tail is around the same size as the body at 56 to 61cm (22 to 24 in). Aye ayes weigh around 2kg (4lbs).

Lifespan                                                                                  

The oldest recorded lemur in captivity was 23.4.

Diet

Ayes Ayes set out to forage soon after sunset and continue foraging for most of the night only stopping for occasional rests. They tap on tress with their long fingers and sense the vibrations. If there is an echo they know the tree is hollow and begin digging. When they find grubs they scoop these out using the long finger and eat them.

They will also feed on fruits, nuts and plants. These include breadfruit, banana, coconuts, ramy nuts, bamboo, nectar, lychees and mangoes.

Habitat

Madagascar, off the coast of Africa is the only wild home of the aye aye. They are mainly found within the North-eastern forests along with those on the east coast. They live in dense tropical and coastal forests.

Reproduction

aye ayeBreeding takes place at any time of the year for the aye aye. Once she is ready to mate the female aye aye will call to the males who are in the area. These males will meet near her and fight until one wins the right to breed with her.

Gestation lasts for 160 to 170 days after which a single infant is born. For 2 months this infant will be raised in a nest. This nest is like a closed sphere which has one entry hole in the fork of a tree. This animal is not weaned until it is 7 months of age. They will not establish a territory of their own though till they are 2 years old.

Females will become sexually mature at 3 years old while males mature at 2 ½ years of age. Most females appear to wait 3 years before having another infant.

Behaviour

Threats to the aye ayes survival are few and far between. Their biggest threat as adults is the fossa. When young, snakes and birds of prey also threaten them. Humans also hunt aye ayes to eat them and destroy their habitat.

The aye aye has a nocturnal activity pattern. 80% of the night they are awake going about their lives.

Aye ayes are solitary living alone in a home territory. The territory of a female overlaps several males territory. Males can live in the same area and will share their nests around but not at the same time as they are using them.

Their lifestyle is completely arboreal, meaning they live in the trees. They will eat, sleep, nest and breed up in the canopy.

Quick facts

Aye ayes were believed extinct in the wild till 1957.

It is thought that the name aye aye came from the cry of alarm made by the first person to encounter one of these creepy looking creatures.

In Madagascan legends it is said that an aye aye pointing its middle finger at you causes death. Another believes that looking at one will lead to the death of someone in your village.

Photo Credits:

Top        – By Tom Junek (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom -By Aye-aye_(Daubentonia_madagascariensis)_2.jpg: Tom Junek derivative work: WolfmanSF (Aye-aye_(Daubentonia_madagascariensis)_2.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons