Aye Aye

AYE AYE (Iy –Iy)
Pronounced: Daubentonia madagascariensis (Dob-en-tone-ee-u mad-a-gas-care-ee-en-sis) Order: Primata
Kingdom: Animalia Family: Daubentoniidae
Phylum: Chordata Genus: Daubentonia
Class: Mammalia Species: Madagascariensis


Aye-Ayes are only found in Madagascar and their numbers are dwindling for several reasons. Their habitat is being destroyed due to urbanization and their trees are also used in the production of houses and boats. They are killed because they eat coconuts and other fruit crops and they are also thought to be evil spirits by some indigenous cultures, and killed for that reason, too. Although they have been shown to adapt to a variety of habitats, their numbers are still falling quickly and many organizations consider them critically endangered. They are still listed as near threatened through the IUCN, but have not been surveyed for several years.

The Aye-Aye is a primate, meaning it is closely related to apes, chimpanzees, and humans. It may look more like a rodent, with incisor teeth that grow throughout its life, and some have even called it the “mammalian woodpecker” because it taps on trees with its long middle finger to check for insects. With their excellent hearing (note the huge, moveable ears), they can probably hear the difference in sound inside a tree trunk if there is a tunnel or insect larva present in the wood.

They eat insects, larvae, coconuts, other fruits and nuts, nectar, and the growths on trees called cankers. When eating something with a hard shell, they use their sharp claws, as well as their teeth to break them open, then use that long middle finger to dig out the insides. Their long fingers also help them dig into tunnels in trees and bark.

Aye-Ayes build ball-like nests in the high forks of trees and stay there during the day. They are nocturnal, so they come out at night to eat. They usually sleep alone, but sometimes in pairs.

In addition to humans, their main predator is the fossa, a large mammal which can roam on the ground and climb trees. Aye-Ayes can walk on two legs or crawl on four. They are excellent climbers and agile jumpers. Their strong limbs and claws (on all toes except the two big ones on their feet) help them cling to branches.

Aye-Aye mothers only have one child every two or three years. When born, it is very vulnerable and will stay in the nest for about two months. She will continue to nurse her youngster for another seven months and it will stay with its mother for up to 2 years.


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