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Did you know: Acting as Honorary Woodpecker - the “Aye-aye” of Madagascar 🎥

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

Aye-ayes can be found only on the island of Madagascar. This rare endangered species may not look like primates at first glance, but they are related to chimpanzee, apes and perhaps humans. There are no woodpecker birds on the island, so the aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) - which most likely owes the name to its unique cry - has filled the vacant niche, behaving much like the bird.

The aye-aye lives primarily on the east coast of Madagascar with the natural habitat being rainforest or temperate deciduous forest. Many animals also live in cultivated areas due to deforestation.

Aye-ayes are dark brown or black, distinguished by a bushy tail that is larger than their body and also feature big eyes, slender fingers and large, sensitive ears.

Its most striking feature is a very long middle finger with which it extracts burrowing insect larvae from wood and pulp from fruits. In the search for food it taps gently on wood surfaces in order to locate cavities and assess their contents. Scientists believe they might use a form of echolocation. It then bites into the soft wood with their sharp incisor teeth to open up the gallery and pokes its long finger in to extract the food. Watch the clip below for more detail.

Young aye-ayes learn at an early age from their mothers about the search and extraction of insect larvae with their curious extremity. At first the young are clumsy, tapping everything they find, but with experience they gain dexterity.

Due to its bizarre appearance and unusual feeding habits, the aye-aye is considered by many to be the strangest primate in the world. It is the world’s largest nocturnal primate.

According to Madagascar legends, the aye-aye is a demon that can kill just by pointing a finger. Superstitions around the aye-aye may have developed because it is apparently unafraid of humans, walking right up to people passing by to take a closer look even though it is a nocturnal animal. The aye-aye's reputation is, of course, entirely unfounded. However, because of the way the aye-aye is perceived, this perfectly harmless creature is often killed on sight. (

For more information about this rare, endangered species:

National Geographic Wild (1:57) 🎥

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” - Albert Einstein



National Geographic, 2018 (viewed 01.09.2018)

Reader's Digest Publication “Intelligence in Animals” 1995 (viewed 01.09.2018


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