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Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding



  • Feed on sap, nectar, fungus, fruits, nuts, and insects (Andriamasimanana 1994; Erickson 1994; Sterling et al. 1994)
    • 90% of time spent eating 4 food resources; observations of one island population (Sterling et al. 1994; Sterling 1994b)
      • Seed from ramy fruit (Canarium madagascariensis), insect larvae, cankerous growth on Intsia bijuga bark, and nectar from traveler's tree (Ravenala madagascariensis) flowers
      • Intake of one relative to the other three varies seasonally

Plants consumed (Ancrenaz et al. 1994; Andriamasimanana 1994; Sterling 1994a, b)

  • Seeds
    • Canarium spp - seeds
    • Terminalia catappa - seeds
    • Tropical almond (Terminalia catappa) - seeds
  • Nectar and flowers
    • Traveler's tree (Ravenala madagascariensis) - nectar and flowers
    • Banana flower (Musa sp.) - nectar
  • Fruits
    • Ficus tree (Ficus spp.) - fruit
    • Breadfruit (Artocarpus sp.) - flesh and seeds
    • Barbibanjina (Passiflora quadrangularis) - fruit
    • Chrysalidocarpus sp. - fruit
    • Palm (Orania trispatha) - fru
  • Bark and cankers
    • Intsia bijuga - cankers
  • Cultivated crops
    • Coconut (flesh and milk), banana, mango, and litchi/lychee

Insects consumed (from Erickson 1995a unless otherwise noted)

  • Larval insects
    • Partial to longhorn beetles (Family Cerambycidae)
    • Buprestid, elaterid, scarabid, and tenebrionid beetles
    • Lepidopterans (butterflies and moths) (Erickson 1994)
  • Adult beetles and ants (Erickson 1995a; Sterling and McCreless 2006)
    • Adult beetles, consumed when offered to individuals in managed care

Suspected food items

  • Amphibians
    • Those which may use small holes in trees for reproduction (Erickson 1994)


Feed on plant based items most often (Ancrenaz et al. 1994)

  • Spend less time searching for insects
    • c. 10% of time spent in search of larval insects (Ancrenaz et al. 1994)

Percussive foraging

  • Tap on bark (echolocate) in search for insect larvae (Erickson 1991; Erickson 1994; Erickson 1995a)
    • Drum with middle finger to locate subsurface cavities created by the feeding prey
      • Ears bent forward (Erickson 1995b)
    • Chew away wood (using incisors) to access the cavity
    • Extract larvae with middle finger, inserted into the cavity

Feeding behaviors

  • Middle finger often used to place food into the mouth (Andriamasimanana 1994; Winn 1989)
    • Probe cavities and flowers before being drawn out and between the lips
  • Tear open fruits, nuts and seeds with the incisors (Andriamasimanana 1994; Winn 1989)

Daily caloric intake

  • c. 260-342 kcal (Sterling et al. 1994)

Feeding Adaptations

an Aye-Aye eating

Specialized fingers allow aye-ayes to access and eat many of their favorite foods. The middle finger drums on bark to locate subsurface cavities. After the teeth tear away the overlying wood, the finger is once again used; this time as a probe to dig out tasty larvae morsels.

Image credit: © D Haring/Duke Lemur Center. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Andriamasimanana (1994)
Ancrenaz et al. (1994)
Erickson (1991)
Erickson (1994)
Erickson (1995a, b)
Sterling (1994a, b)
Sterling and McCreless (2006)
Sterling et al. (1994)
Winn (1989)

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