Aye-Aye captain! We’re off to Madagascar!
The Aye-Aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a type of primate found to be native in the dense jungles of the island of Madagascar.
Picture taken from: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/aye-aye/
These brown or black hairy mammals are characterized by their big eyes and ears along with a bushy tail, often compared to the size of their own bodies (Macdonald, D, 2001). Their most distinctive feature lies in their elongated, slender fingers with pointed, claw-like nails.
They use their sharp nails to cling onto treetops and tree branches. These solitary creatures spend almost all of their lifetime in their nests perched up high in the trees of the rain forests. They construct their nests using dried leaves, twigs and branches to create a sphere shaped nest (National Geographic, 2010).
Being nocturnal, it only forages for food in the night time. It typically feeds on insects or wood-boring insect larvae which are found in the hollows of barks or large tree branches. Perhaps, the most interesting trait of the Aye-Aye is the unique way in which it sources for food, employing its long, slender fingers.
Using an intelligent technique to save them valuable energy in finding food, they utilise their extra long middle fingers to tap on barks of trees and branches. They then listen to the acoustic sounds produced by the movement beneath it to deduce the exact location of their potential prey. Once located, they will peel off the area around it using their strong teeth to create a hole where they will use the same middle finger to extract their food out (Garbutt, 2003). Other than insects, Aye-Ayes also dine on fruits and human food crop.
Unfortunately, the Aye-Ayes are now critically endangered as they are often killed on sight by the natives who have a superstitious fear of these creatures and consider them an omen of ill-luck (Baron, 1882). These animals are now protected by the law.
Baron, R., 1882. Notes on the Aye-Aye of Madagascar. Nature, Volume 26, pp. 504-505.
Garbutt, N., 2003. Aye-aye videos, photos and facts – Daubentonia madagascariensis – ARKive. [Online]
Available at: http://www.arkive.org/aye-aye/daubentonia-madagascariensis/
[Accessed 9 April 2013].
National Geographic, 2010. Aye-Aye. [Online]
Available at: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/aye-aye/
[Accessed 9 April 2013].
Macdonald, D, 2001. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, UK.