Aye-Aye Facts

Michael Bryan

Michael Bryan

Published: 23 Jul 2021

aye-aye facts

Aye-aye is a species of lemur that is native to Madagascar and the only existing representative of the family Daubentoniidae. An aye-aye possesses unique features similar to squirrels and rodents, like their color, hair, and toes. In addition, Aye-ayes have rodent-like teeth that continuously grow. Sometimes, people confuse the animal with chimpanzees or tarsiers. Many aye-aye facts guides report on this as well.

Truthfully, that can be quite puzzling because the first thing you notice when you see them are their big, bulging eyes, that look nothing like a chimpanzee’s. No doubt, they are one of the strangest-looking primates in the world. Their unique looks make them even more fascinating to animal experts and lovers.

If you want to see one with your own eyes, you’d better be ready to go out in the forest at night. Not only is the Aye-aye nocturnal, but it is also arboreal. This means that it spends most of its time in the trees. While they will occasionally descend to the ground, they will feed, sleep, travel, and mate in the trees. They prefer to spend their time near the canopy, where there is more protection. When it comes to their diet, you will usually see aye-aye snacking on fruit, seeds, nectar, and fungus. However, they do love to eat insects, and eggs as well, which make them omnivorous animals.

Explore these amusing aye-aye facts we’ve prepared for you below. Learn more about why some believe they carry bad luck, their unusual feeding ritual, and a whole lot more!

  1. An aye-aye weighs approximately 2 kilograms or 4.4 pounds.
  2. The aye-aye has a top speed of 20 mph.
  3. At night, aye-aye may travel up to 4 kilometers or 2.4 miles to look for food.
  4. Aye-aye can live up to 23 years in captivity.
  5. About 50 aye-ayes can be found in zoological parks worldwide.
  1. Aye-aye is a lemur or an arboreal primate.
  2. It is endemic to Madagascar.
  3. Aye-aye has rodent-like teeth.
  4. Aye-aye is the only existing member of the family Daubentonia and Daubentoniidae family.
  5. Aye-aye is one of the biggest primates in the world.
  6. Aye-aye has a bushy tail longer than their body.
  7. An adult aye-aye measures around 90 centiemeters or 3 feet long.
  8. From the head to the body, the aye-aye is about 36 to 43 centimeters or 14 to 17 inches.
  9. Its tail measures 56–61 centimeters or 22 to 24 inches.
  10. Aye-aye has long dark brown or black fur.
  1. Aye-aye is often regarded as evil.
  2. It is believed that the name aye-aye came from Malagasy people (people from Madagascar) saying “heh heh” to avoid using the name of the feared animal.
  3. Some people believe that if an aye-aye points its longest finger to someone that means death.
  4. Others say that the arrival of an aye-aye in a village signifies the death of a villager, and the only way to stop it is to kill the aye-aye.
  5. Each hand of aye-aye has a pseudo thumb or extra finger which helps them grasp and grip objects.
Table of Contents

The aye-aye's iconic trait is its fingers.

One of the most distinctive traits of Aye-aye is its fingers. Aye-aye uses its third finger, which is thinner than the others, for tapping and digging while searching for food. The fourth finger, which is the longest, is for pulling grubs and insects from the trees. Furthermore, its bony middle finger is unique among the animal kingdom, as it has a ball-and-socket joint (rounded, ball-like end of one bone).

aye-aye
Source: Dr. Mirko Junge on Wikimedia Commons

Aye-aye is the only primate that uses echolocation.

The aye-aye is the only primate that uses echolocation to find food. Echolocation is a system that animals use to locate an object by measuring how long an echo takes to bounce back. Using its slender, middle finger, aye-aye will tap the tree, and listen for insect larvae moving inside the bark. After locating the insect, they will use their middle finger to hook out the insect.

Aye-aye is a solitary creature.

The aye-aye is a solitary and nocturnal creature. During the day, aye-ayes sleep on their nest on the branches of the trees. Also, aye-ayes have a large home range which they mark with scent. Female aye-ayes have smaller territories that sometimes overlap with male aye-ayes’ territory. Aye-ayes only live with other aye-ayes during mating season, and when their young are still dependent on their mothers.

The teeth of aye-ayes continuously grow.

Aye-ayes have long and sharp incisors that continuously grow and eventually get wore down due to grazing on trees. Due to this unusual feature of the aye-aye, naturalists have mistakenly identified aye-aye as a member of the family Rodentia. They sometimes mistake it for a squirrel too, because of their hair, toes, and tail.

Aye-aye are omnivores.

Aye-ayes, just like most primates, are omnivores because they eat both plants and animals. They mainly feed on seeds, fruits, nectars, algae, and fungi, but they also eat insects and honey. Aye-ayes spend 80% of the night searching for food. They climb trees and make vertical jumps, like a squirrel.

Aye-aye use a variety of sounds to communicate.

Aye-ayes produce a variety of vocalizations to communicate. They sometimes scream to indicate aggression and protest. Aye-ayes also produce a descending whine or cry when they compete for food. When they encounter humans, they make a “tiss” sound, and may also produce an “hai-hai” when they try to run away or flee.

aye-aye
Source: Frank Vassen on Flickr

Aye-aye becomes sexually mature at around 2 to 3 years of age.

Like other primates, female aye-ayes are more dominant than males, and they often challenge each other for mates. Normally, the male is locked to a female during mating, which may last for an hour. However, during the breeding season, male aye-ayes can be assertive and even pull away other males from females.

Aye-aye's gestation period is from 160 to 170 days.

The gestation period of the aye-aye is around 5 to 6 months. The female aye-aye usually gives birth to just one baby. Newborn aye-ayes are totally dependent on their parents, and do not leave the nest for 2 months or 60 days. During the daytime, the mother takes care of the young, while at nighttime, she leaves the baby aye-aye and searches for food.

Fossils from Kenya and Egypt suggest that aye-aye originated in Africa.

These are important aye-aye facts. Fossils found in Kenya and Egypt dating to 34 million years ago suggest that the present aye-aye originated in Africa before spreading to Madagascar. Researchers compared the dentition or teeth of the aye-aye to several African primate fossils which led to the theory that the ancestor of aye-ayes seized Madagascar separately from other lemurs.

Aye-aye was thought to be extinct.

In 1933, aye-aye was thought to be extinct, but was miraculously rediscovered in 1957. Unfortunately, at present, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists aye-aye as an endangered species. Although they are now protected by law, the habitat loss of the aye-aye, and cases of hunting and killing are seen as major threats for they are viewed as evil and pests to crops.