So, a primate with a weasel’s face, a monkey’s body, a rodent’s incisors and a sloth’s claws! What else can be uglier? No doubt, the Aye-Aye will scare off people but it is actually harmless and is currently categorized as endangered. Did you know that locals of Madagascar say that if the Aye-Aye points its long middle finger towards someone, that person will die? It is because of this belief that people actually kill this innocent (but actually horrid-looking) creature on sight! Also, did you know that Aye-Ayes were actually thought to be extinct till 1956. It was in 1957 that the Aye-Ayes were spotted again and they were listed as endangered. Okay, enough of other talks, let us get started with our business – learning another 20 weird Aye-Aye facts… you ready?
Weird Aye-Aye Facts: 1-5
1. All male and female Aye-Ayes look exactly same. They are so similar in appearance that it actually takes a very close and minute inspection to differentiate males.
2. Of all primates in this world, Aye-Aye is the only primate which makes use of echolocation. Which other animals make use of echolocation? Bats, whales and dolphins do this.
3. When it comes to Aye-Ayes, they will actually tap on tree branches. This tapping will produce an echo, which will tell the Aye-Ayes whether the branches are hollow or not. If hollow, they will then make use of their acute hearing to find out whether there are any movements underneath or not.
4. If they hear any movement, they will use their incisors to bore hole in the branches and then use their third finger (middle finger) to scoop out the insects or larvae. There is only one other known animal that uses this method. It is the stripped possum.
5. Talking of fingers, their fingers are really ugly and very unusual. The middle finger or the third finger is the thinnest of all and is capable of making independent movements. It is this middle finger that they use for tapping on tree branches.
Weird Aye-Aye Facts: 6-10
6. This third finger is incredibly useful as it is also used for two other purposes – grooming and drinking. This third finger moves at a speed of 3 strokes in a single second, allowing the Aye-Aye to send water to its mouth.
7. For feeding purposes, the animal makes use of its fourth finger, which is the longest of all fingers. It uses the fourth finger to scoop out larvae and insects from branches.
8. Aye-Ayes have large hands, which they use for gripping branches on trees. Every toe has a functional claw as well except for the big toes.
9. Just like owls, lizards, dogs and camels, Aye-Ayes also have third eyelid. This third eyelid is known as the nictitating membrane and is responsible for keeping the eyes of the Aye-Aye moist. It also acts as protective layer, protecting eye from debris when the animal chews and bores hole in tree branches.
10. Talk of incisors, Aye-Ayes have long and sharp teeth on the front, which are responsible for giving the notion that Aye-Ayes were rodents. But what’s about the incisors? They actually grow throughout the lifetime of the Aye-Ayes. In case you didn’t know, the incisors of the rodents also grow throughout their lifetime.
Weird Aye-Aye Facts: 11-15
11. When the female Aye-Ayes conceive, they carry the babies in womb for a period of 5 months.
12. Only one baby Aye-Aye is born and once it is born, the mother nurses the baby. Baby sucks on nipples of the mother, which are present between the mother’s hind legs.
13. Newborn babies are totally dependent on their mothers and cannot leave nest for 2 months or 60 days. It is during this time that the mother takes care of the baby during the day time and at night, she leaves her and goes out to find food.
14. Once the baby is capable of getting out of the nest, the mother continues to take care of the baby and actually plays around, chasing the baby among trees, tapping on tree branches only for fun and more.
15. These mother-child activities continue until the baby attains the age of 18 to 24 months. That’s when the baby leaves the mother and goes off on its own.
Weird Aye-Aye Facts: 16-20
16. The nest that the Aye-Aye makes looks like a ball. The nest is made of branches, twigs and leaves.
17. The nests actually look like closed spheres with a single entry point. These nests are usually built on forks of very large trees.
18. It is not that the Aye-Ayes eat only insects and larvae. They even eat fruits and even coconuts. They also find fungi a tasty supplement to their diet.
19. Why is the Aye-Aye called Aye-Aye? Scientists really don’t know! Some say that the words Aye Aye were a cry out of astonishment and exclamation and fear when the locals first spotted the creature. This theory was actually given by Pierre Sonnerat – a naturalist from France. The other theory is that the name Aye-Aye from the Malagasy phrase known as “heh heh”, which translates into ‘I don’t Know’.
20. The story is that when people asked the locals about the creature, they said ‘heh heh’ simply because they actually didn’t know or perhaps they were too afraid to speak about the animal.