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10 Fascinating Facts About the Aye Aye

Last Reviewed and Updated on November 2, 2022

Aye ayes are one of the most unique animals on the planet. This species of lemur puzzled researchers for years; they were misclassified as rodents and squirrels before they were correctly classified as primates. There are quite a few superstitious beliefs about these animals as well. Read on and learn some of the most interesting facts about the aye ayes.

1. Aye aye is the world’s largest nocturnal primate

They might not be the largest when it comes to all primates, but when it comes to nocturnal primates (most active during the night), aye-ayes are the largest of them all. A full-grown aye-aye typically measures about 2 feet / 60 cm in length.

2. They are native to Madagascar

Like all other lemurs, aye-ayes are can be found in Madagascar and nowhere else in the world.

3. Their incisor teeth are constantly growing

The continually growing teeth are common in rodents but not in primates. This led to aye-ayes being mistakenly classified as rodents at first.

4. Their most distinctive feature are their odd fingers

Dr. Mirko JungeCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The fingers of aye-ayes are something not likely forgotten once you see them. They are pretty unique. The third finger is much thinner than the other fingers; aye aye uses this finger for tapping to make sounds to help them locate food. The fourth finger is the longest of them all. The aye aye uses it to pull grubs and other insects out of trees.

The third finger also possesses a ball-and-socket joint (like our hip joint). This is unique in the animal kingdom as no other known animal has this type of joint in their fingers.

And we’re not done yet; the aye aye also evolved a sixth digit (pseudo-thumb) that aids it in gripping.

5. Aye ayes use echolocation to find food

Not many animals are able to or have mastered to use of echolocation to aid them in their search for food. Aye ayes are one of them. They tap their third finger and focus on the sounds they produce.

They are the only known primate to use echolocation for hunting.

6. They are omnivores

Most of their diets consist of seeds, fruits, nectar, homey, and fungi. They also eat insect larvae.

7. Aye ayes are arboreal

They spend most of their lives living in trees. Aye ayes eat, sleep, mate, and travel in the trees. They will only occasionally come down to the ground.

8. They were thought to be extinct in 1933

It was believed the aye aye was extinct in 193d, however, the species was rediscovered in 1957.

9. The male aye aye may pull away other males from the females during mating

Males can be very assertive and will fight other males for a female.

10. In folk beliefs, they are the harbingers of evil

This is one of the more interesting facts about the aye aye. However, this is sadly one of the reasons this species is considered endangered; aye ayes are often killed because of superstitious beliefs.

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