(Daubentonia madagascariensis)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

Avg. height: head and body, 15.75 inches; tail, 16 inches

Avg. weight: 6.4 lbs.

Coat: mixed short white hairs and long white-tipped black hairs with huge black ears and a pale face

Locomotion: quadrepedal, moves along the thick branches with its body horizontal to the limb.

Longevity: 26 years in captivity (unknown in the wild)

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION:

Sparsely distributed along the east coast and in the northwestern forests of Madagascar.

ECOLOGY

Habitat: forests and bamboo groves of the eastern part of the island as well as in limited regions of the northwest sectors. It was, at one time, more widely distributed since fossil teeth have been found in several different parts of Madagascar.

Home range: from 100 to 200 ha for males and 35 to 40 ha for females.

Day range: purely nocturnal

Large percentage of diet is insect larvae that live inside dead wood. They find the larvae are found by tapping on the dead wood with its oversized middle finger, listening for reverberations in the wood. Once larvae are found, aye-ayes stick their long finger into the wood and pull them out. It is possible that the aye-aye occupies the niche normally inhabited by the woodpecker.

REPRODUCTION

Birth seasonality: breeding can occur at any time.

Age of sexual maturity: 2 years (in captivity, unknown in the wild)

Gestation length: 170 days

Litter size: one offspring

Interbirth interval: every 2-3 years

PARENTAL CARE

Offspring are weaned at 7 months, but will

continue nursing in captivity as long as they are

caged with the mother.

TOPICS OF SPECIAL INTEREST

Aye-ayes also...

...spend up to 80% of the night traveling and feeding.

...spend most of the time in the trees although traveling on the ground is not uncommon.

...sleep in nests during the day and different individuals will use the same nest on different days.

...interact socially only during courtship and when an infant is dependent on its mother; during these interactions, females are considered to be dominant over males (female dominance in primates is unique to prosimians).

...are threatened by loss of habitat (due to forests being cleared for sugar cane and coconut plantations) and hunting pressure.

...play an important role in Madagascan folklore as the magical keeper of the forest: if one sleeps in the forest an aye-aye will prepare you a cushion of grass. If the cushion is placed under the head while sleeping then it is a sign of good luck. If placed under the feet one will become ill and fall prey to the magic of sorcerers and bad luck. They also believe that anyone who kills an aye-aye will die within the year.

SOURCES

Swindler, Daris R. Dentition of Living Primates. London, Academic Press: 1976

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/chordata/mammalia/primates/

http://www.duke.edu/web/primate/aye.html

http://hamp.hampshire.edu/~jwgF92/AyeAye.html

http://www.thewildones.org/Animals/ayeAyeNH.html

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