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Aye-Aye: Daubentoniidae


An aye-aye's diet consists of fruits, fungi, seeds including coconuts, nectar (sweet liquid) from palm tree flowers, and wood-boring beetle larvae (LAR-vee) or young. To get at the soft larvae feeding within trees, the aye-aye walks along tree branches, its nose pressed against the bark. The aye-aye has excellent hearing. It may tap on a branch, listening for hollow spaces created by larval feeding. When a larva is located, the aye-aye gnaws quickly through the wood with its long incisors, or front teeth. Larvae are squashed with the aye-aye's unique long, thin middle finger. Squashed remains are scooped out, bit-by-bit, and licked off the tip of this middle finger. Larvae add protein and fat to the aye-aye's diet.

The aye-aye also uses its strong incisors to tear through the outer surface of hard-shelled nuts. Unripe coconuts are a favorite. The aye-aye chews on them until it makes a hole. Then, it uses its long middle finger to scrape out the thick coconut milk and the softer interior, eating both.


Aye-ayes were once thought to be extinct in Madagascar. But in 1957, a small group was discovered living on Madagascar's east coast. There were many attempts to protect its habitat there, but the aye-aye population kept growing smaller. Finally, to prevent the aye-ayes total disappearance from the world, two French scientists spent weeks collecting nine protesting aye-ayes. They were released on a nearby uninhabited island called Nosy Mangabe. This island is just 2 square miles (5.2 square kilometers) in size. However it is covered in dense rainforest with many very tall trees. Scientists hoped the aye-ayes would survive there. For many years, scientists weren't sure. Aye-ayes move about only at night, and vegetation is thick, so they are hard to find. However, eventually some nests and aye-ayes were seen. It is hoped that aye-ayes will multiply on this protected island.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsAye-Aye: Daubentoniidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, AYE-AYES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS