Daubentonia madagascariensis

Common names are not officially defined. They are based on everyday conversational language and may differ by country, region, profession, community, or other factors. As a result, it is not unusual for a species to have more than one common name.

Scientific names are in Latin and they are written in italics. They are standardized and for everyone, no matter what language you may speak. They are bound by a formal naming system, called binominal nomenclature, that has strict rules. Scientific names prevent misidentification. Those names only change if a species, or its genus, is officially redesignated by experts.

Aye-ayes are mainly found in eastern, northern, and central-western Madagascar. They can also be found in fragmented pockets, in smaller populations, across almost all of coastal Madagascar. 

  • Aye-ayes are members of the lemur family
  • They were thought to be extinct until the mid-1900s
  • They are the largest nocturnal primate
  • Folklore considers aye-ayes to be harbingers of bad luck because of their eerie appearance
  • In fact, their unique adaptations benefit their environment
Endangered means that there is a high risk that they could become extinct in the wild.

The greatest threat to aye-ayes is widespread deforestation that continues to put all of Madagascar’s primates at risk.

The aye-aye’s strange and menacing appearance has not helped the species garner protection among locals, who regard them as ill omens and harbingers of bad luck. It is not uncommon for an aye-aye to be killed by humans, either because of superstition or because of being viewed as a crop pest.

  1. Aye-ayes are nocturnal and have very specific dietary and environmental needs. Those needs cannot possibly be met in human living conditions.
  2. To become pets, young primates are stolen from their mothers. As a result, they do not develop healthy emotional lives.
  3. Primates are never domesticated. They always remain wild. 
  4. Caged primates are very unhappy and frustrated. They are likely to resist confinement. They are quick and cause damaging bites and scratches. Some die as a result of their captivity.
  5. Many locations have strict regulations that prohibit trading in or keeping primates and endangered species are pets.
  6. Aye-ayes belong with other aye-ayes in Madagascar. They and their habitats must be protected, not exploited.

Visit the AYE-AYE Primate Species Profile

 Copyright © New England Primate Conservancy 2019. You may freely use and share these learning activities for educational purposes. 
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