The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a strepsirrhine native to Madagascar that combines rodent-like teeth with a long, thin middle finger to fill the same ecological niche as a woodpecker. It is the world’s largest nocturnal primate, and is characterized by its unique method of finding food; it taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood and inserts its elongated middle finger to pull the grubs out.
The Aye-aye is the world’s largest nocturnal primate, and dwells predominantly in forest canopies. It weighs about 2.5 kilograms, with the female weighing in slightly less (by an average of 100 grams) than males. Other than weight and sex organs, aye-ayes exhibit no sexual dimorphism of any kind. They all grow from 30-37 cm from head to body, with a 44-53 cm tail.
The adult Aye-aye has black or dark brown fur covered by white guard hairs at the neck. The tail is bushy and shaped like that of a squirrel. The Aye-aye’s face is also rodent-like, the shape of a raccoon’s, and houses bright, beady, luminous eyes. Its incisors are very large, and grow continuously throughout its lifespan. These features contrast its monkey-like body, and are the likely cause of why scientists originally deemed it to be a rodent.
The Aye-aye’s hands are arguably its most unique feature. Much like other primates, it possesses opposable thumbs, but both the hallux and the fingers are long and thin, and appear to be in a curved position somewhat similar to that of a fairy-tale witch when the muscles are relaxed. The middle finger can be up to three times longer than the others.
The Aye-aye lives primarily on the east coast of Madagascar. Its natural habitat is rainforest or deciduous forest, but many live in cultivated areas due to deforesting. Rainforest Aye-ayes, the most common, dwell in canopy areas, and are usually sighted upwards of 700 meters altitude. The Aye-aye sleeps during the day in nests built in the forks of trees.