Aye-aye
(say it like this: eye eye)

Aye-ayes are in the same family as people, monkeys and apes.

They live in the trees.

They sleep in the day and are awake at night.

Big eyes help them see at night.

Aye-ayes have a long finger to catch insects inside trees.

What is an aye-aye?

The aye-aye is a kind of Lemur, a member of the primate family. Primates include humans, apes, monkeys and lemurs.

The aye-aye is the rarest of the lemurs. It is a medium-sized lemur weighing about 3 kg.

Habitat and Distribution (where it is found)
The aye-aye is found only on Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa. It lives in the tropical forests in the east and north of Madagascar.

Body
The body of the aye-aye is about 40 cm long, with a bushy tail about the same length as the body. The dark brown fur is long and woolly, which gives the animal a rather shaggy appearance.

Aye-ayes have large, naked ears and large eyes with yellowish brown irises.

Habits and behaviours
The aye-aye is mostly arboreal, which means staying in the treetops, but is sometimes seen walking on the ground. It is nocturnal, which means it is active at night, foraging in the trees for food. The aye-aye is in fact the largest nocturnal primate. Large eyes help the aye-aye find its way about at night. During the day they aye-aye sleeps in a nest in a tree.

Aye-ayes spend almost the whole night travelling about and feeding, hardly stopping to rest. Each aye-aye has a home range through which they travel. For males it is an area of between 100 and 200 hectares, and for females about 35-40 hectares.

Aye-ayes are solitary, which means they live alone. Sometimes pairs are seen, but basically little is known about their lives.

They do not leap and cling to trees like other primates. They move about on all four legs. They occasionally make brief cries but are usually silent.

Diet
Grubs that live inside dead wood form the largest part of the aye-aye diet. The aye-aye also feeds on fruit, eggs, and bamboo shoots.

An animal group of its own
Although the aye-aye is a kind of lemur, it has two features are not found in other lemurs, so the aye-aye is in an animal group on its own:

•The front feet of the aye-aye are unique. All the toes are long and thin, but the third is exceptionally long. The aye-aye taps on the tree trunk and listens for movement as it searches for places where burrowing insect grubs might be located. It gnaws at the tree to make holes, then it uses its long third finger to probe inside the holes and hook out grubs deep in the bark.

Interesting new research about the Aye-Aye's long third finger is here
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/16577537

•The front teeth of the aye-aye grow continuously and are worn down by its gnawing at bark in its search for grubs.

Life Cycle
There is no particular season when aye-ayes mate. Breeding happens at any time of the year. Females breed every 2 or 3 years. About 170 days after mating with a male,
a female aye-aye gives birth to one young. Young ones suckle milk from their mothers for about 7 months.

A newborn aye-aye being weighed at the zoo where it was born

The aye-aye's life span is approximately 10 years.

Conservation Status
Aye-ayes are classified as critically endangered. This means they are close to be extinct, or totally gone.

Because of deforestation, or forest destruction, the aye-aye's habitat is severely reduced. The animals have therefore been forced to invade plantations to find food, and eat villagers' crops, and many aye-ayes have been killed while doing so.

In addition, some of the indigenous people on Madagascar still believe an ancient myth that seeing an aye-aye is a sign that someone close to them will die, and so they kill the animals on sight.


Find out more about aye-ayes here:
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/aye-aye/


If you use any part of this in your own work, acknowledge the source in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, Shirley & Thomas, Ron. Aye-aye [Online] www.kidcyber.com.au (2012).

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