Aye Ayes of Madagascar: A Rare Primate in Peril

Young aye ayes usually have a silvery front with a black stripe running down their back. The aye ayes‘ bodies, however, are usually multicolored and entirely covered in thick fur as they approach adulthood. Whereas the remainder of the body is usually yellow or brown, the tips of the hair on the head and back are usually black. 

The aye aye can be identified by its fingers, among other features. Using its hooked nail, the longest finger, the fourth, is used to remove grubs and insects from trees. The third finger, which is considerably thinner than the others, is used for tapping.

Distribution and Habitat

In the past, the aye aye was a species of animal found in the coastal woods of eastern and northwest Madagascar. The eastern coast of Madagascar is home to secondary forests, bamboo thickets, mangroves, and even coconut groves, but the aye aye prefers dense, tropical, coastal rainforests with lots of cover. However, in addition to being persecuted by the locals, the aye aye faces grave threats to their natural habitat due to habitat loss.

Aye Aye Behaviour and Lifestyle

The rare aye aye lives as high in the forest canopy as possible, just like many other primates and lemurs. In addition, the aye aye is active at night and stays away from threats during the day. The canopy of trees aids in hiding aye ayes from potential predators.

Aye ayes construct circular nests in trees where they spend their nights, relax, and raise their young. A combination of vines, leaves, bark, and tree branches are used to construct these nests. Although it was once believed that aye ayes were lonely creatures, more recent studies have revealed that they occasionally behave in groups.

Reproduction and Life Cycles

Male and female aye ayes have several mates; they are polygynandrous (promiscuous) creatures. When a female signals that she is ready for a mate, the males gather around her and engage in violent fights to gain the privilege of breeding with her. It appears that the aye aye mates throughout the year, depending on when the female is in season, dispelling the myth of a rigid breeding season. One child is born during the roughly five-month gestation period.

After spending the first two months safely within the nest, it is weaned at the age of seven months. Up to the age of two, when it departs to find its own area, it will stay with its mother. It is believed that male aye ayes reach sexual maturity at 2.5 years of age, while females reach sexual maturity at 3 to 3.5 years.

Diet and Prey

The aye aye is an omnivorous species that roam high in the trees and during the night, feeding on both plant matter and other animals. In their quest for food, males have been found to travel up to 4 km per night. They consume a wide range of fruits, seeds, insects, and nectar.

The aye aye fills the same ecological role as a woodpecker by using its sharp front teeth to eat a hole in the wood, after which it inserts its long middle finger, hooks the grub with its claw, and extracts it. The aye aye is believed to be the only monkey that uses echolocation to find food, and it is also known to consume eggs and coconut flesh with this long digit.


Population threats: Deforestation and the growing number of human settlements that affect the aye aye’s natural environment are the greatest threats to the species. Native Madagascar people also hunt aye ayes or kill them completely since they believe they are both crop pests and bad omens.

Population number: According to the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) resource, it is unknown how many aye ayes there are at this time. But a rough estimate would be between 1,000 and 10,000 animals. The IUCN Red List lists aye aye as Endangered (EN), and its population is currently declining.

Ecological niche: Aye ayes might aid in the spread of the seeds from fruiting trees that they eat. They may also regulate the population of the wood-boring beetle because they are significant predators of its larvae.

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