Aye-Aye Lemur

Scientific Name: Daubentonia madagascariensis

Photo taken by Frank Vassen
Photo taken by Frank Vassen

Description

The Aye-Aye Lemur is very interesting. They have a look that is different from others so they often are overlooked in the world of primates. They are even considered to be evil in Roman Mythology. Many of the villagers today still view them as bringing evil so they try to destroy them. They are the largest of all nocturnal primates.

Anatomy

The long middle finger of the Aye-Aye Lemur is something that is very unique for any primate. They use it though to help them forage for food. They also have teeth that never stop growing. This is why they are given certain foods and items to chew on in captivity. They need a way to keep them from getting too large while they are out of their natural environment.

These Lemurs have a very thick coat. It isn’t really understood why they do though. After all they live in a region where it is very warm. They may have a dark gray or black color to them. It depends on their surroundings so that they have the best overall chances of blending in.

They have excellent vision that allows them to see in the darkness of night. They also have great smelling abilities that allow them to be able to find food and to try to avoid being eaten by predators.

Author Ancheta Wis
Author Ancheta Wis

Evolution

Why does the Aye-Aye Lemur have that long middle finger when no others do? What occurred in their environment long ago that made it develop for their survival chances to increase? We don’t have the answer to why or even know when this occurred. Hopefully we can one day discover some fossil remains of this species from long ago that give us some answers.

Since the diet of these Lemurs reflects that of others, why do they have teeth that continue to grow? There must have been something in their environment that resulted in this genetic contribution as well. If you take a close look at their teeth you can also see they turn inwards. This is a mystery as well and not something you will see on any other types of primates.

Behavior

When it comes to social interaction, the Aye-Aye Lemur can take it or leave it. They do seem to enjoy the company of each other. However, their family groups are very loosely bound. They do spend time living alone and forging for food on their own.

They rely on many types of vocal sounds to communicate with each other. The sounds can travel long distance too due to them spreading out. Sometimes they are looking for a mate, trying to find a place to nest, or they are trying to let others know about impending dangers around the area.

These Lemurs are usually out at night looking for food. Yet they can be seen eating during the day too. This occurs when food is plentiful so they can take advantage of it. There will be dry periods where they can’t find much food at all. They need to be able to fatten up to live off reserves during that period of time.

Aye-Aye Lemur Video

Habitat and Distribution

These Lemurs are found all over Madagascar Island. The East part of it is where most of them live. Yet you can find the Aye-Aye Lemur all over out there instead of just in that location. As their natural environment continues to be depleted they branch out to find food and shelter wherever they can.

They do like the higher altitudes and that offers them lots of leave cover in the forest. They use this location to provide them with a place for their nests to be well hidden from various forms of predators that are looking for a meal.

Author: Joseph Wolf (1820-1899)
Author: Joseph Wolf (1820-1899)

Diet and Feeding Habits

The long middle finger of the Aye-Aye Lemur allows them to get plenty of grubs for food. They will rapidly tap on the trees and find them. Then they use their teeth to consume them. They will also find fruits, nuts, and fungi to eat. They never seem to get full!

However, experts believe they consume so much when it is there to compensate for times it won’t be. They need to have plenty of fat stored up or they won’t be able to survive the difficult dry reason when there is very little food available. It isn’t unusual for these Lemurs to cover up to 2 ½ miles during feeding times.

Aye-Aye Lemur Video

Reproduction

Mating requires the males to go in search of the females. When the females are in estrus they will increase the scent they offer. The males can smell it from far away. However, there can be several males that fight for the ability to mate with her. They may stay together for a period of 1 to 3 days. As soon as her strong scent goes away though they will depart ways.

The males will continue to look for other females to be able to mate with. The estrus times can vary by a few days for different females so he will have time to look around and find other opportunities.

The social interactions between the Aye-Aye Lemur mother and the young is very impressive. Not only does she strive to make sure that basic needs are met but she will play with them too. She may be wrestling with them, playing peek a boo, and more to keep them entertained.

Predators

When it comes to natural predators the Aye-Aye Lemur doesn’t have too much to worry about. Since they live in the trees the threat from snakes is present. There is also the wild cat called the Fossa. In some areas they also have the concerns over the domestic dog that is very plentiful around Madagascar Island now.

All of those predators though are nothing compared to what humans have done. These Lemurs are deliberately trapped and killed by villagers when possible. They won’t eat them though as they are deemed as being evil. Such stories are centuries old in their culture. They won’t be changing their thoughts about these animals any time soon either.

The process of slash and burn in the forest areas has also contributed to them being depleted of their natural homes. Many forest areas are cleared so that the land can be used to build homes or to grow food for the villagers. The efforts by many conservation groups including helping the villagers to do more with the land they have. Hopefully this will cut down on them destroying more of it.

Other conservation efforts involve trying to put pressure on the governing bodies of Madagascar Islands. However, there is plenty of political red tape out there that takes place with it. The government has a hard time stepping on the toes of the villagers and their beliefs.

Breeding programs are also something that have been implemented in many areas. The goal is to help increase the survival rates of the young so that they reach the age of maturity. They other issue is that with habitat being destroyed the males are further from the females than before. Getting them in closer proximity can help with increasing natural breeding efforts in a captive environment.

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3 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

An absolute brilliant hub with all these informaiton. Thank you.


PoliCommandments profile image

PoliCommandments 5 years ago from DeKalb, IL

This was a very interesting article. I learned so many facts about a species of primate that has existed, unbeknownst to me! Thanks for going above and beyond in your research.


Jason 3 years ago

This was so brilliant that I wrote a report on it and got an A+

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