Are you interested in learning about unique and rare species of animals? Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is native to the islands of Madagascar and is known for its unique features and characteristics. Long middle fingers, large eyes, and ears along with a huge tail, distinguish them from other primates. Daubentonia madagascariensis (aye-aye) also have very interesting habitats and ways of reproduction. Aye-ayes have a very interesting diet and way of finding food. The use of their fingers, especially the middle and fourth ones makes them stand out among all primates. Even though they are unique, there are a lot of myths and superstitions about them that are affecting their population. Some native people believe they are evil and will cause harm to their villages and crops. These myths and superstitions are proving to be fatal for them. To know more fun facts about this unique and interesting species, keep on reading further.
Aye-aye, who is native to the islands of Madagascar, is the largest nocturnal primate and long-fingered lemur with teeth like a rodent.
What class of animal does an Aye-Aye belong to?
Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) belongs to the class of Mammalia, order primates, and the family Daubentoniidae.
How many Aye-Ayes are there in the world?
The current population of aye-ayes left in the world ranges somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000, though the number is rapidly decreasing. The reason behind this condition of ayes-ayes is mostly because they are facing habitat loss due to pollution and deforestation. Hunters and predators also contribute to this poor condition of aye-ayes.
Where does an Aye-Aye live?
The aye-ayes are native to the island of Madagascar.
What is an Aye-Aye's habitat?
The aye-aye's natural habitat is deciduous forest or rainforest and they are settled on the east coast of Madagascar. Many aye-ayes are forced out of their natural habitat due to deforestation and hence, live in cultivated areas. Not being the most social animal, aye-ayes avoid coming down the trees and spend most of the time up high in the trees. They are found dwelling in canopy areas that are above 230 ft (70 m). They build their ball-like nests from dead leaves and interwoven twigs and the aye-ayes sleep in that ball-like nest during the day. These nests are located among the vines and branches of large trees.
Who do Aye-Ayes live with?
Ayes-ayes are not the most social animals. They generally prefer living on their own. These solitary animals mostly hang out with each other during courtship or when the infants depend on their mother. They are mostly found foraging in their own territory or home range. The home range of the male and female of this species is separated. The male aye-ayes are comparatively more social than the females of the species. The home range of males is often found to overlap but the same is not true for females. Although, at times, the home range of the male aye-ayes overlaps with many females. Since the male home range overlaps, they live in large areas of about 80 acres; whereas, the females live in areas of about 20 acres.
How long does an Aye-Aye live?
There is no specific data that shows how long an aye-aye can live in the wild. However, they can live a healthy life up to 23 years in captivity.
How do they reproduce?
Aye-ayes reach sexual maturity at the age of two or two and a half. The mating process of this species is quite dramatic. The female aye-ayes dominate the males, like many other prosimians. The females are ready to mate every two to three years. They attract males for mating through loud repetitive vocalization during their estrus period. A reproductive female mates with several males. Males are quite competitive and assertive when it comes to mating. Males are often found to pull other males away while they are mating with a female. Male and female aye-ayes lock each other and hang upside down from the trees during the mating process which lasts for about an hour or two. The gestation period of aye-ayes is of 157 - 172 days and one offspring is born after that period. At birth, the infants are generally underdeveloped and weigh somewhere between 3.2 oz - 5 oz (90 g - 140 g). The infants are taken care of by only the females and weaned at the seventh month.
What is their conservation status?
The current status of conservation of aye-aye is Endangered, according to IUCN Red List, but in 1933, they were thought to be extinct. There's a couple of superstitions and myths regarding aye-aye that makes the Malagasy natives kill them. Apart from that, they are attacked by farmers due to the damage the animals might cause to their crops. Habitat loss is another main cause of their population status. However, efforts are being made to breed aye-ayes in captivity.
Aye-Aye Fun Facts
What do Aye-Ayes look like?
The world's largest nocturnal primate, aye-aye, has a silver color with a stripe down its back as an infant. Through time, its fur thickens and the color changes to black or dark brown. The large bushy tail helps in distinguishing an aye-aye. They have big black eyes and, large ears that are sensitive. The most noticeable feature of an aye-aye is its fingers. The third finger or the middle finger of the species is thinner than the rest of the fingers, and the fourth finger is the longest. It has hooked nails and they use their middle finger and fourth finger for tapping and pulling insects and grubs out of trees. Another distinguishable feature is pointed claws on their fingers and toes that help them to go from one branch to another and up high in the trees. This claw is absent in its opposable big toes.
How cute are they?
Aye-aye is not a species that is known for its cuteness. Its big black eyes and large ears often scare people off and the pointed claws on fingers and toes do the opposite of adding to its cuteness.
How do they communicate?
The aye-aye is not a very social animal, but they have interesting ways to communicate. It uses a number of distinctive vocalizations. For example, a closed mouth scream can mean it is trying to protest. Aye-aye also practices scent marking with its neck and cheeks to make others aware of its presence. While foraging in groups, it uses these scent markings and vocalization to sync the movements.
How big is an Aye-Aye?
A fully grown adult aye-aye is known for being the largest nocturnal primate in the world. It can grow up to 3 ft or 90 cm, which is almost six times bigger than a pygmy mouse lemur. The average length of the head and body is somewhere between 14 in – 17 in (36 cm – 43 cm). What makes these species exceptionally long is the long tail of 22 in –24 in (56 cm – 61 cm).
How fast can an Aye-Aye move?
The average known speed of an aye-aye is about 20 mph or 32.19 km/h.
How much does an Aye-Aye weigh?
At birth, an aye-aye weighs as little as 3.2oz - 5 oz (90 g - 140 g) and is generally underdeveloped. However, an adult aye-aye can weigh 5.07 lb - 5.9 lb (2.3 kg - 2.7 kg).
What are their male and female names of the species?
There is no distinct names for male and female of this species and are referred to as male aye-aye and female aye-aye.
What would you call a baby Aye-Aye?
Just like a human baby, a baby aye-aye is called an infant.
What do they eat?
Aye-ayes generally feed on nectar, fruits, honey, and seeds but being an omnivore, they are found to prey on insects. Unlike most primates, aye-ayes use echolocation to look for their prey. The long middle fingers help them tap on the trees while their sensitive ears come in handy while looking for wood-boring insect larvae, which might be under the bark. The sharp middle finger or the third finger helps them to fish out the incest after the food. Aye-ayes' long fingers also help them scoop out fruits like coconuts.
Are they loud?
The main form of communication between the species is vocalization. They often use loud screams to show aggression or protest. So, they are quite loud compared to the other primates.
Would they make a good pet?
Aye-aye is known for strictly marking its territories with scent and is not the most social species. It can't be housetrained and there are certain myths and superstitions about the species. Although they can't kill humans, they can be really aggressive. Also, due to their Endangered status, they should not be kept in captivity. So, it is not a good idea to pet an aye-aye.
Did you know...
The origin of the name of the aye-aye is debated. The name aye-aye was first used in 1782 by the French naturalist, Pierre Sonnerat. Back in 1800, the aye-aye was referred to as the long-fingered lemur by George Shaw, an English zoologist. According to Simons and Meyers in 2001, the name might originate from 'heh heh' which means 'I don't know' in Malagasy. Another hypothesis suggests that the native Malagasy started saying 'aye-aye' because they did not want to take the name of an evil and feared animal.
Are Aye-Ayes endangered?
According to the IUCN Red List, the native species of Madagascar, aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) are now Endangered. The number of aye-ayes reduced so much that it was thought to be extinct in 1933. Habitat loss due to deforestation and pollution is one of the main causes of this status. Superstitions and myths regarding the aye-aye mean that farmers often kill them on sight. This unique animal is now being protected by law, but the number keeps decreasing.
Dangers and myths of the Aye-Aye
The Malagasy natives believe in myths like aye-ayes are not good omens and bring ill-lucks. They are considered evil and are killed on sight. The farmers, on the other hand, believe that their pointy fingers and claws cause damage to their crops even though there is no proof of this. These myths and superstitions, based on nothing real, are becoming dangerous for the aye-aye.
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