Galagoides demidoff

Geographic Distribution and Habitat

The Demidoff’s dwarf galago, also known as the Demidoff’s galago, dwarf bushbaby or galago, and Prince Demidoff’s bushbaby, is found across West and Central Africa within the understory (below the canopy) of primary forests (those that are undisturbed by humans), secondary forests (those that have naturally regrown after a period of human-caused disturbance), gallery forests (those formed along riverbanks that flow into otherwise open areas, such as deserts or savannas), mangrove areas, swampy forests, and mixed habitats in the Upper Guinean forest zone. Specifically, they range from southern Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, stretching all the way to west-central Uganda in the east, and northern Angola to the south. Despite occurring along the Gulf of Guinea, they have not been documented in the countries of Togo and Benin.

The Demidoff’s dwarf galago is adaptable, and tolerant of disturbed habitat, having been found in tree-fall zones (designated areas where humans can safely fell trees), logged forests, roadsides, and cultivated areas.


There is debate among the scientific community as to whether the Demidoff’s dwarf galago is monotypic (recognized as one species), or has subspecies. Six potential subspecies of the Demidoff’s dwarf galago have been recognized by biologist Colin Groves:

• The Calabar dwarf galago (G. d. murinus) in the Nigeria-Cameroon border region

• The Bioko dwarf galago (G. d. poensis) from the island of Bioko

• The Congo dwarf galago (G. d. anomurus) from between the Sanaga and Congo rivers

• The Kasai dwarf galago (G. d. phasma) from the south of the Congo River

• The Uele dwarf galago (G. d. medius) from the Uele-Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo

• An undescribed form from Lake Oku, Bamenda Highlands, Cameroon

Demidoff's dwarf galago range, IUCN 2023

Size, Weight, and Lifespan

Very “mouse-like” in size, the Demidoff’s dwarf galago grows to a head-and-body length of 3-6 inches (73-155 mm), with a long, non-bushy, non-prehensile tail (not used for grabbing or grasping, but rather for balancing in the trees) which ranges from 4.3-8.5 inches (110-215 mm). They weigh between 1.9-3.5 ounces (55-100 g).

The Demidoff’s dwarf galago exhibits slight sexual dimorphism, which is noticeable physical differences between genders, with males being slightly larger and weighing slightly more than females.

Their lifespan in the wild is not known, but captive individuals have lived an average of 12 years.


The Demidoff’s dwarf galago has a narrow head equipped with large ears and a pointed muzzle. Like other galagos, they have a specialized grooming claw known as a “toilet claw”.

Much like their wide range in distribution, the species also has a wide range in appearance. Fur color ranges by location. For example, West African populations tend to have foxy red fur, while those in Central Africa tend to be more gingery red-brown. 

All in all their fur color can range from dark maroon, gingery reddish-brown, dark reddish-brown, reddish-gray, or yellow-gray along the backside of the body and outer portion of the limbs, with a reddish-yellow, grayish-white, creamy yellow, or creamy white underside and inner portion of the limbs. The neck may sometimes have a grayish contrast, and the tail is a deeper red-brown compared with the rest of the body. Rings around their big, copper-brown eyes are brownish or black, and a stripe running down the nose is toned in either white or yellow. Juveniles generally have darker coloration than adults.

Photo: © bureaubenjamin/iNaturalist/Creative Commons

The Demidoff’s dwarf galago is an omnivore, feeding on both plant and animal material. Roughly 75% of their diet consists of invertebrates like insects (mostly beetles, moths, and caterpillars), and snails, along with an occasional tree frog. The remainder of their diet consists of fruit, unripe nuts, young leaves, buds, as well as gum secretions from certain trees.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Like other galagos, Demidoff’s dwarf galagos are nocturnal (most active at night) and arboreal (tree-dwelling). They move around their tree-dominated habitat on all fours by using their long hindlimbs to leap from tree to tree by pushing off from them and landing forelimbs first. They make rapid darting movements while running and leaping. They spend their days sleeping in a nest made of dense vegetation or leaves some 16-131 feet (5-40 m) off the ground. They may also use abandoned squirrel nests for sleeping.

Nights are dedicated to foraging. Prey are detected through their large eyes and ears, and are snatched up by one or both hands. Individuals can also feed acrobatically by hanging from their back limbs while hunting. Try seeing your local trapeze artist do that!

The species is primarily solitary, however, females sleep in groups of 2-5 consisting of their offspring and sub-adults, with some groups numbering up to 10 individuals! During the breeding season, an adult male may be found in these groups as well. 

Predators of Demidoff’s dwarf galagos include raptors, genets, and snakes. Predators are avoided by sounding an alarm call, followed by quickly leaping through the trees to avoid capture.

Fun Facts

Tiny, but mighty: The Demidoff’s dwarf galago is the second smallest primate on Earth, after only the teeny-weeny “champion”, the Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur.

They certainly love to leap: The Demidoff’s dwarf galago can make horizontal bounds of up to 7 feet (2 m)!

Daily Life and Group Dynamics

Upon waking in their sleeping nest, individual adult Demidoff’s dwarf galagos separate from one another to forage, but may maintain contact with one another by vocalizing.

Home ranges may extend between 1.2-6.7 acres (0.5-2.7 ha). The heaviest males, averaging 3 ounces (75 g), have large home ranges that are often in a central position overlapping those of several females whose smaller territories in turn, overlap one another. Smaller males averaging 2 ounces (56 g) are tolerated within the range of the dominant male and maintain smaller territories of their own. Medium-sized males averaging 2.2 ounces (61 g) occupy relatively large home ranges on the periphery of female ranges. These males may associate with one another and may eventually gain weight and shift to a more central area upon reaching puberty. In general, females remain within their natal territory for life, while males leave their natal home range at puberty to stake out a territory of their own. Territories of both genders are maintained via vocalizations, as well as by scent markers.

Adult males are aggressive toward one another, especially in defense of their territory. Since each male seeks to control an area that overlaps the home ranges of several females, intense competition among males often results.

The Demidoff’s dwarf galago is sympatric with—meaning they occupy the same spaces as—the southern needle-clawed galago (Euoticus elegantulus). This habitat-sharing is made possible because they are not in direct competition with one another, as they occupy different levels of the canopy and have different diets. They are also sympatric with the Thomas’s dwarf galago (G. thomasi) with whom they share a similar appearance and diet. This habitat-sharing works because the Thomas’s dwarf galago occupies higher levels of the forest canopy when compared with the habitat of the Demidoff’s dwarf galago.


Similar to other galagos, Demidoff’s dwarf galagos use a large, loud call repertoire for various situations. These calls are also sometimes the only way scientists can distinguish between species! 

The vocal repertoire consists of long crescendos, increasing in volume, that also increase in speed and pitch, and are emitted once or twice. They are used for contact, spacing, and gathering. Chirps are emitted in short phrases which are used as a mild alarm, while an explosive buzz is used for contact avoidance. Very rapid chirps that speed up and slow down are used when individuals are highly alarmed.

An odd habit of the Demidoff’s dwarf galago is frequent washing of their hands and feet with urine. This is used to leave scent trails throughout the territory. It may sound gross to us, but it works!

Reproduction and Family

Female Demidoff’s dwarf galagos normally breed once per year, and exhibit genital swelling during estrus (when they are most sexually receptive), which usually lasts between one and three days. Mating is prolonged, often lasting up to an hour, and takes place when a breeding pair is suspended beneath a branch (more acrobatics!) In Central Africa, mating is known to take place in September, October, January, and February. Females may mate with more than one male during the breeding period.

Gestation (length of pregnancy) varies by region, ranging between 110-129 days (111-114 days on average), and females usually give birth to a single offspring per year, but sometimes twins have been reported. In Gabon, births peak from January to April, the season of greatest food abundance for the species. In Brazzaville, Congo, births occur in September and October as well as in January and February. 

Males play no role in raising the offspring. The mothers will often hide their offspring in the undergrowth during the night while they forage, returning them to the sleeping nest in the morning. After about a month, the young are able to follow their mothers, but are still carried on occasion. Infants who are unable to leap across a gap call to alert their mothers. Mom comes back, picks up her offspring, and jumps with her infant. Weaning (the end of nursing from the mother) takes place at around six weeks.

While interacting with adults (including sub-adults in the female group), the young will position the tail into a corkscrew in order to prevent attacks from larger members of the species. 

Sexual maturity is reached at around nine months of age, upon which males disperse to establish territories of their own, while females remain relatively close to their mother’s territory.

Photo: © bureaubenjamin/iNaturalist/Creative Commons
Ecological Role

As frugivores (fruit-eaters), Demidoff’s dwarf galagos aid in the regeneration of their forest habitat by dispersing seeds through their feces during their travels. As a prey species, they also play a role in feeding local predators within their habitat. Finally, they may also be considered pest controllers through their consumption of insects.

Conservation Status and Threats

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Demidoff’s dwarf galago as Least Concern (IUCN, 2016), appearing on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The Demidoff’s dwarf galago is abundant and wide-ranging, with the current population trend listed as Stable on the IUCN Red List. However, they are threatened with habitat loss in parts of the range via deforestation for timber, charcoal, and conversion to agricultural spaces.

Conservation Efforts

The Demidoff’s dwarf galago is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international agreement between governments whose goal is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

The Demidoff’s dwarf galago is found in several protected areas across their wide range, including Taï National Park in Côte d’Ivoire, Semliki and Bwindi National Parks in Uganda, Korup National Park, Dja Reserve, and Lobéké Reserve in Cameroon, and Southern Highlands and Gran Caldera Scientific Reserve on Boko Island, Equatorial Guinea.

Education regarding the species and conservation needs is included in international legislation, and subject to international management and trade controls. Along with keeping close watch on the amount and severity of deforestation within the Demidoff’s dwarf galago’s range, further research and monitoring are needed regarding population size, distribution, and trends to ensure that this species doesn’t edge more closely along the path to endangerment and extinction.


Written by Sienna Weinstein, April 2024