All About the Aye Aye

The Aye-Aye is a rare breed of mammal found on the island of Madagascar. While it doesn’t immediately look like a primate, it is related to the ape and chimpanzee.

What You Should Know

The only place to find aye-aye in the wild is in Madagascar. They feature a distinctive look with their coarse dark hair, rodent-like teeth, and bushy tails. When they are born, they weigh just a few ounces but grow to five pounds. They live to be up to 20 years old.

The aye-aye prefers to live in the rainforest, deciduous forest, and plantations. They build a nest high in the trees. They eat a variety of foods, but primarily feast on nectar, fungus, seeds, and insect larvae.

What Sound Do They Make?

The aye-aye makes a variety of sounds, unique to the breed. It’s also a rare animal that uses echolocation to find its food.

You can hear about some of the sounds with help from the Cincinnati Zoo.

Group Characteristics

The aye-aye prefers to be alone and doesn’t groom others in the species as most primates do. With that said, sometimes the males’ range overlaps with another and they will socialize. The male aye-aye makes its home in up to 80 acres while the female lives in 20 acres. This means that the female won’t overlap with others, but a male will have multiple females in its territory.

Aye-aye are polygamous and will often fight for mates. The male will even pull another male away while mating. Breeding occurs at any time of the year. A single offspring is born after 157-172 days of gestation. Infants are weaned as young as seven months old, but nurse indefinitely in captivity.

How Many are There?

The aye-aye is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The only non-human predator to the aye-aye is the fossa. Humans kill the aye-aye on sight because they believe it brings bad luck. Furthermore, it faces hunting pressure and a loss of habitat.

Pop Culture

The aye-aye might not be a popular addition to movies and films, but one does have a leading role that most people know about. Maurice, who plays King Julian’s friend in the Madagascar movie franchise, is actually an aye-aye. He also appears in the series, The Penguins of Madagascar.

Aside from that, there have been rumors that Master Yoda from Star Wars was modeled after the aye-aye. There are no confirmed reports that back up those claims.

The aye-aye is not a popular animal at zoos; however, the Denver Zoo was the first to care for the species. They now house three of the 24 located in the United States.

Interesting Facts

The aye-aye is a nocturnal animal. It sleeps in its nest during the daylight hours and then emerges from the nest 30 minutes before sunset. The aye-aye doesn’t go back to its nest until the sun comes up the next day.

Locals near the aye-aye believe the animal predicts death. When they see an aye-aye during hunting, they become afraid. They are also quick to kill one when spotted because it is a pest to their crops.

The aye-aye uses its middle finger to extract food from the trunks of trees. It’s specifically designed to reach into the branches, trunks and hard shells. This middle finger is thin, looking like just bones and skin. It’s also up to three times longer than any of the other aye-aye fingers.