Habitat & Range
A wide variety of forest types including rainforest, deciduous forest, dry scrub forest and mangrove forest. While once widely distributed in this variety of forest habitat, currently this species is found primarily in rainforests along the east coast of Madagascar as well as the deciduous forests of the west.
Native (endemic) to the island of Madagascar.
Aye-ayes are nocturnal spending up to 80% of the nighttime hours foraging for food. Adaptations for nocturnal life include dark fur that helps camouflage them in the dense forest and large ears that help them listen for the movement of grubs and larvae. They also have large eyes with a tapetum lucidum – a reflective layer on the back of the eye that improves night vision. Daylight finds aye-ayes high in the trees safely tucked into ball-like nests consisting of interwoven twigs and leaves.
IUCN Status: Near threatened
Once thought extinct, aye-ayes were rediscovered in 1957. Although small populations have been found in several locations on Madagascar, they are very endangered due to loss of habitat. Forests on Madagascar are being cleared for sugar cane and coconut plantations as well as the logging industry. Due to loss of their usual habitat, aye-ayes sometimes raid crops and may be killed by farmers. Some Malagasy natives consider the aye-aye an evil omen and often kill them on sight. Currently aye-ayes are found in 16 protected areas on Madagascar and there are efforts to breed these unique animals in captivity.
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