Zoology

Aye Aye Diet



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"Aye Aye Diet"
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The aye-aye is an endangered species of nocturnal lemur that lives only on the island of Madagascar. With its huge eyes, rat-like teeth, grotesquely long middle toes and scruffy coat and the unfortunate tendency to urinate on anyone that frightens it, the local humans assumed the aye-aye was an evil spirit that fed on the souls of anyone unlucky enough to cross its path. Actually, the aye-aye has no taste for souls but does enjoy insects, bamboo shoots, fruit and a nice bit of coconut.

Aye-ayes perform an important function in the Madagascar rainforests by getting rid of insects that bore into trees. Also, be eating fruit, they usually swallow some seeds. As they travel along in the forest, they eventually excrete the seeds (along with dung that can act as fertilizer) and help the trees to procreate.

Percussive Foraging

When night falls, the aye-ayes come out of their roosts and spend the night foraging in the total darkness. Their huge horizontal ears twitch as they take their incredibly long middle toes and drum them along the trees as they climb. Just by the sound of the tapping, they can tell where insects are hiding. This type of hunting by listening is called percussive foraging.

Then the longest middle toe in the forepaws comes into their own. The aye-aye can use it to drill a hole into the bark to uncover the bug. They can then spear the bug with the toe, using it as a shishkabab. They can also mash the bug up inside of its hiding place and then slurp up the contents.

Nice Bunch Of Coconuts

Coconuts are incredible sources of fluids and nutrients. But the shell is so hard that it an animal may use up far more calories in trying to get the coconut open than they can hope to recover when they finally eat the coconut.

But not the aye-aye. The same middle toes that can drill through tree bark can also drill into a coconut. Their rat-like teeth can also strip tree bark and can damage a coconut shell. The toe then can spear out the succulent white flesh. Aye-ayes also use this method with eating other fruits that they may come across in their constant nightly forages among the treetops.

Eggs are also incredible treasure chest of protein. The aye-aye has a much easier time getting into an egg than a coconut or a tree branch.

Baby, Baby

Although they may look like a cross between a lizard and an owl, aye-ayes are mammals. They give birth to live young and then suckle the babies with milk. In order to give their babies the best chance at life, female aye-ayes do not breed every year, but every two or three years. But the mothers only nurse their babies for seven months.

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More about this author: Rena Sherwood

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/aye-aye.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQoZ5ESK4YI