Skip to Main Content
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) Fact Sheet: Summary

Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) Fact Sheet

an Aye-Aye

Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis)

Image credit: © Frank Vassen at Flickr. Some rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Gmelin (1788)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Suborder: Strepsirrhini (prosimians)

Superfamily: Lemuroidae (Malagasy lemurs)

Family: Daubentonia

Genus: Daubentonia

Species: Daubentonia madagascariensis — aye-aye

Body Weight: 
Male: c. 2.62 kg (5.8 lb)
Female: c. 2.57 kg (5.7 lb)

Head & Body Length: 30-37 cm (12-15 in)

Tail Length: 44-53 cm (17-21 in)

Pelage: Dark brown or black fur, tipped in white. Tail monochromatic, long and bushy.


Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: Madagascar. Concentrated in eastern, northern, and central-western regions; fragmented pockets in nearly all coastal areas. 

Habitat: Forest inhabitants; found in nearly all forest types excepting the spiny forest (historically home to the extinct giant aye-aye). Inhabit cultivated areas. 

IUCN Status: 
Endangered (2012 assessment) (Andriaholinirina et al. 2014)
Large scale reduction in habitat linked to population declines. Population contraction of > 50% expected within 10-24 years.

CITES Appendix:
Appendix I (UNEP 2019)

Population in Wild: Unknown. Elusive, nocturnal behavior hinders studies of population size and dynamics.

Locomotion: Walk, run, climb, and leap. Most often move within the forest canopy, though commonly observed on the ground .

Activity Cycle: Nocturnal. Feed and travel at night; by day, rest in nests located in trees.

Social Groups: Solitary most often.

Diet: Omnivores. Seeds, nectar, cankers, and insect larvae compose 90% of the diet. 

Predators: Humans believed responsible for most mortality. Fossa. Snakes and raptors may prey on infants and young.
Reproduction & Development Species Highlights
Sexual Maturity: 8-36 months of age

Gestation: 158-172 days; mean of 167 days

Litter Size: 1

Birth weight: 90-140 g (3.2- 4.9 oz) 

Age at Weaning: 6-7 months of age

Typical Life Expectancy:
Managed care: no AZA estimates

Feature Facts: 

  • Among the world's most endangered primates
  • Nocturnal lemur, native to Madagascar.
  • ​Specialized teeth, fingers, and ears help individuals forage for food.
  • ​Continually growing incisors (teeth) gouge seeds, scrape fungus and cankers, and pry bark from trees.
  • Wood-boring insects are also a large part of the diet. Subsurface hollows, which often contain larvae, are located by echolocation using a technique known as percussive foraging.
  • An elongate, highly flexible middle finger taps on bark, while large ears are cupped around the area to detect resonant sounds.
  • Tree removal leading to loss of habitat and hunting contributing to continual population loss
  • First aye aye born at the San Diego Zoo in September 2015


About This Fact Sheet

© 2014-2020 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Updated November 2014. Population status updated 2018. IUCN Status updated Oct 2020.

How to cite: Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) Fact Sheet. c2014-2020. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. ayeaye. 
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2014 Sep 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

SDZWA Library Links