The Aye Aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a badly misunderstood creature who is actually rather harmless! In its native Madagascar, it is viewed as an evil omen and is killed on the spot; as such its species are highly endangered! There is a hypothesis that the word “aye aye” signifies simply a cry of alarm to alert others to the presence of this animal. Some of the other names the Madagascans call it by are “aiay”, “ahay”, and “hay-hay”.
Some Interesting Facts
The Aye Aye, one of the most bizarre mammals, is the world’s largest nocturnal primate and spends 80% of the night foraging in forest canopies, whereas during the day, it curls up in a ball-like nest of leaves and branches. In addition, the male Aye Aye weighs approximately 2.5 kilograms, while the females are slightly lighter. Other than the weight and sex organs, Aye Ayes exhibit no sexual dimorphism. Last but not least, the most intriguing characteristic of the Aye Aye is the manner in which it locates its prey! Besides the Striped Possum, the Aye Aye is the only other animal species which hunts in this unique fashion!
As seen from the clip, when the Aye Aye is perched aloft, it uses its elongated and bony middle finger, which can be three times longer than the others, to tap on the tree up to eight times per second! The Aye Aye listens for a tiny change in the resonance, which indicates the presence of a hollow spot within the trunk. It then gnaws into the wood and uses its middle finger to fish out the wood-boring insect larvae. It takes about 4 years for a young Aye Aye to master this technique. As such, the Aye Aye is the only primate thought to use echolocation to seek its prey. Interesting aye?
A documentary on the Aye Aye from BBC “Life”
All in all, Madagascan folklore and habitat destruction have resulted in the Aye Ayes being one of the many highly endangered species.
What a pity! Perhaps more education and exposure on these fascinating creatures can be introduced to uncover their beauty and eradicate the myths.
“Aye-Aye Daubentonia madagascariensis” National Geographic. URL: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/aye-aye/ (assessed on 28 March 2010)
“Aye Aye Facts” by Rita Putatunda. Buzzle.com. URL: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/aye-aye-facts.html (assessed on 28 March 2010)
“Harmless Creature Killed Because of Superstition” by David Knowles. AolNews, 27 March 2010. URL: http://www.aolnews.com/science/article/superstitious-villagers-are-killing-off-harmless-primate-called-aye-aye/19416515 (assessed on 28 March 2010)
“Aye-Aye Eating” by arkive.org. LibrePL Youtube Channel, 14 April 2008. URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpkXHX_7ju0 (assessed on 28 March 2010)
“The Aye Aye” by BBC “Life” Domentary Series. Globalzoo Youtube Channel, 8 January 2010. URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxoyTGYataY (assessed on 28 March 2010)