With its large round eyes and big ears, the bush baby is one of the most
peculiar looking animals of the African bush. Capable of leaping great
distances, it often appears to fly among the treetops.
A nocturnal animal, as many as twenty may crowd together to sleep in an
enclosed space like a hollow tree trunk. At dusk they wake & split into
family groups & go searching for food. The groups forage separately all
night, each group defending its own territory of 15-20 acres. A typical
forging group consists of a single adult male, a pregnant female, & her
young from a previous litter.
Bush babies mate at the end of the rainy season. In areas with one
breeding season, twins are common, but where there are two breeding
seasons, one baby is born at a time.
When the female is ready to give birth, she goes into hiding so that
the male will not kill the young. For 3 days she remains hidden, suckling
& protecting her tiny offspring. The youngsters are weaned after 6 weeks
& can feed themselves by 8 weeks. At 4 months they are fully grown. In
captivity, when they are fed regularly all year round, bush babies breed
constantly throughout the year.
FOOD & FEEDING
During the rainy season, bush babies eat mainly insects such as
caterpillars & dung beetles, which they catch by pouncing on them.
They are quick enough to catch mice & lizards. In addition,
they raid birds' nests for eggs. Bush babies eat flowers, fruits, pollen,
nectar, & honey from wild bees as well. In the dry season, their diet
changes as food becomes scarce. They rely on the resin of acacia &
albizzia trees, & they only survive in areas where these trees grow.
BUSH BABY & MAN
Bush babies are easy to catch, & several African tribes keep them as pets.
But in 1940, bush babies were persecuted as a severe outbreak of yellow
fever swept through Africa. Bush babies can harbour the virus without
becoming ill themselves. Mosquitoes pick up the virus from the bush
babies & pass it on to humans. with the advent of inoculations, the
danger of contracting yellow fever is now greatly reduced.
Length: Body 6-9 in., tail 9-10 in. Newborn babies, 2 in.
Weight: 3-10 oz. Newborn babies weigh 1/2 oz.
Sexual maturity: 8 months.
Breeding season: End of rains, so depends on
Gestation: 4 months.
Litter size: 1 or 2.
Habit: Family groups when foraging; larger groups when sleeping.
Call: Rasping greeting sounds. "Shout" in
Diet: Mainly insects; also flowers, pollen, honey, seeds, fruit, lizards, mice, nestlings.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Because the bush baby's call sounds like the shouts of an excited child,
British explorers gave it its English name.
- Some African tribes catch bush babies by leaving out saucers of
palm wine for them to drink.
- The longest recorded leap by a bush baby from one tree to another was 23 feet.
- Bush babies fertilize flowers by transferring pollen as they feed.
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