Take the ears of a bat and the teethof a rat, add a long bony middlefinger and huge eyes and you haveyourself the aye-aye. This nocturnallemur lives in the rainforests ofMadagascar and feeds on insectlarvae that it finds by tapping ontree bark with its stick-like middlefinger. As it taps, the aye-aye listensfor movement indicative of insectsand gnaws away at the wood whenit hears something appetizing.Today the aye-aye is highlythreatened by habitat loss(rainforest destruction) and hunting.In some areas, local people believethe aye-aye brings bad luck and willkill the animal whenever they
•The fossa is a carnivore that isrelated to a mongoose and lookslike a cross between a puma anda dog. Fossas are nocturnalcreatures that hunt almost anyanimal including insects, reptiles,rodents and lemurs. They alsoprey on chickens in and aroundMalagasy villages and are huntedby local people as vermin.Fossa are active both in trees andon the ground and are excellentclimbers using their long tails forbalance and retractable claws forclimbing straight up and down tree
•Madagascar is home to abouthalf the worlds 150 or sospecies of chameleons,which are small to mid-sizereptiles that are famous fortheir ability to dramaticallychange colors. Contrary topopular belief, a chameleontypically does not changecolors to match itssurroundings. Instead color isusually used to conveyemotions, defend territories,and communicate with mates.
Madagascar is thought tohave more than 300 speciesof frogs, 99 percent of whichare common. Frogs are theonly amphibians found inMadagascar—there are notoads, salamanders, or newts.Mantella are among the mostpopular of Malagasy frogs inthe pet trade. These strikinglybeautiful frogs fill a similarecological niche to the poisondart frogs of South America inthat both use bright colors toadvertise their toxic skinsecretions to predators.
•The black-and-white ruffed lemurlives in the eastern rainforests ofMadagascar including the island ofNosy Mangabe.• Like the closely related red ruffedlemur of the Masoala peninsula,black-and-white ruffed lemurs arehighly territorial and practicecommunal care for infants, which arekept in nests rather than beingcarried on the backs or stomachs oftheir mothers.Black-and-white ruffed lemurs arewidely hunted over their range. Theyalso suffer from habitat loss.
• The ring-tailed lemur is thebest known of lemurs.Ringtails live in the dry forestsof southern and westernMadagascar where they feedon fruit, flowers, leaves, andbark. Ring-tailed lemurs arethe most terrestrial of livinglemur species and are found infemale-dominated groupsconsisting of three to 20animals.