Wild Fact #944 – Other Uses for the Middle Finger – Aye Aye

Wild Fact #944 – Other Uses for the Middle Finger – Aye Aye

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It is the beginning of another fun filled week and I hope everyone had a chance to get outdoors and enjoy their weekend. The thought of having to get up really early this morning gave me the motivation I needed to write about an animal that uses it’s middle finger. No, the aye aye does not use its middle finger the same way I would but nonetheless it is very important for their survival.

First of all, an aye aye is a type of lemur that only lives in Madagascar. It is an odd looking animal that had scientists perplexed for some time.  They were not sure how to classify this animal since it has the traits of a variety of animals.  For example, this lemur’s teeth continously grow like that of a rodent, it has the face of a weasel and the ears of a bat.  How would you classify this animal? Well, they decided to make up a new family for this lemur due to it’s unique characteristics.  Oh I forgot to mention that the aye aye also has a trait similar to that of a woodpecker.  Nope, it doesn’t have a long beak but it does have a very long middle finger that serves the same purpose as the woodpecker’s beak.  The middle finger of the aye aye can be up to three times longer than their other fingers. They will knock on the trees with this bizarre finger to locate wood boring larvae scurrying beneath the tree bark.  Once they find some yummy grubs they use their specialized finger to dig them out.  As well, they are able to use this digit to scoop out coconuts and other fruit because who wouldn’t want some nice fruit after a large meal of grubs! Not only did you learn about the aye aye today but you found another use for your middle finger.  Who would have thought that the middle finger could be used for something else other than communication during rush hour?

Like a lot of the animals I have been talking about lately, the aye aye is endangered.  Habitat destruction and poaching are the main reason for their decline.  Why are humans poaching these weird looking animals?  Good question! There is a belief in Madagascar that the aye aye is a magical creature whose presence  will bring death to the community. For this reason, anytime an aye aye is spotted it will be killed immediately.  These deaths coupled with the loss of habitat spells trouble for our long fingered friend.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post.  Have a great day!

10 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Candy November 09, 2009

    What a weird looking lemur. It looks like it has a rat’s tail and no fur on it’s legs or tail. I definitely wouldn’t want to run into this little guy at night…it’s creepy looking.

    Do you have any visitors from Madagascar that may have seen this?

    • Avatar
      Nathan November 09, 2009

      Come one… you know the little guy is cute and not creepy! It definitely would startle you if you bumped into while walking around at night. I don’t think you will need to worry about them in Canada though.

  2. Avatar
    SJ Tavo November 09, 2009

    ok – those things are kinda cute in an ugly way LOL once again – more interesting knowledge from your site – I love it!

    • Avatar
      Nathan November 09, 2009

      Cute in an ugly way – hahaha

      I am glad you enjoyed the post and were able to learn something.

  3. Avatar
    Bev Lawrence November 09, 2009

    Have never seen anything like this before, cross between a bat and a weasel. You’re definitely right about having a face only a mother could love. The baby was kind of cute though.

    • Avatar
      Nathan November 09, 2009

      It is funny how the babies are always cute, no matter how ugly the adults may be.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Avatar
    margo November 09, 2009

    Very cute… I enjoy how much this little guy scares me!

  5. Avatar
    Agapelife November 10, 2009

    I’m sure Lucas used the Aye Aye as a model for some of his Star War creatures! Just look at the eyes- magical!

    • Avatar
      Nathan November 10, 2009

      hahahaha! Maybe it was those magical eyes that made people believe they were a “magical” creature that causes death.

      They do look like something out of a sci-fi movie though!

  6. Avatar
    Dawn July 26, 2011

    I’ve seen an Aye-Aye in Bristol Zoo in England. I learned a bit about them from Gerald Durrell’s [sp] book called ‘The Aye-Aye and I’ and they instantly became my favourite animal of all. In real life, they are adorable and gentle creatures and actually, their tails are not in the least rat like, they’re like a squirrel’s tail with loads of soft looking fur. They rather seem like a three way cross between a squirrel, and a koala bear and are about the size of a large domestic cat once adult. I stood and watched them a the zoo for a good hour and was spellbound. My husband then adopted one for me for my birthday. I have a postcard with one on above my desk as I’m talking to you. :-)

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