Today we have a kooky and spooky looking creature direct from the island of Madagascar called an aye-aye (suggested by previous Guest Doodlewasher Barbara Nigg!). They are super rare animals that are actually primates, which means they’re related to apes, chimpanzees, and well… you and me! Yeah, that’s a super weird fact. Try not to think about it too much. Unlike their relatives, they’re primarily active at night, so though small in size, this makes them the largest nocturnal primate in the world.

Discovered by French naturalist Louise-Jean-Marie Daubenton, nobody is quite sure how they ended up with the name “aya-aye.” One theory suggests that it was a cry of astonishment which another French naturalist coined upon hearing the locals react to the creature. A second idea, is that it comes from “heh heh” which is a Malagasy phrase that means, “I don’t know.” Though it’s equally likely it was just a obvious response to naturalists constantly asking confused locals, “What is the hell is that thing?”

It’s numbers are in decline, because even though the natives didn’t know what the hell it was, they were certain it must be evil. Aye-ayes have an elongated middle finger, which can move independently, and is meant for scooping insect larvae out of trees. But if one points it at you it’s said to be a sign that you will die, and the only way to escape the curse is to, of course, kill the aye-aye on sight and hang it upside down. This unfortunate superstition along with deforesting have made these little creatures an endangered species. If you have a suggestion for an uncommon creature to doodlewash next, please shout it out in the comments!

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Azo Orange, Quinacridone Gold, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal


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41 thoughts on “The Aye-Aye

  1. That middle finger caught my eye right away and freaked me out. The eyes are so cute and innocent – yet something is behind them. You sure create magic with your doodlewashes, Charlie O! This is sure going to be an interesting month!!! 🙂

    1. Thanks Jodi! 😃💕hehe…yeah…this month is weird…will take me a bit to get used to it and hit my stride I think. I secretly wanted to practice animals I’m not so used to seeing…and it’s harder than I thought when you have no built in reference! Lol

  2. I previously knew of the aye-aye only by their name and that you should never look one in the eye – wow, he certainly has an intense gaze! This is great, Charlie – thanks for the education! I love how it looks as if he’s just jumped as if to say “Surprise!! You’re gonna die now!” before pointing that finger at us. Thankfully this isn’t an animation, that finger isn’t pointing this way so I should be OK and survive to see whatever’s next. I very much look forward to it! 😉

    1. Yeah…he’s a little intimidating what with the local lore and all. They also think he will drop down on your at night and scoop out your brain, but that’s never been verified to have happened. I thought about doodlewashing him pointing at us, but couldn’t go through with it. Freaked me out! Lol

      1. Oh my!! Poor things – talk about a bad reputation! This being said, I’m hugely relieved that you opted against the pointed finger. Best be on the safe side! 😛

  3. How sad that superstitions (and general ignorance) is once again harming another harmless creature. Maybe your sweet doodlewash can be their spokes-creature and teach people a thing or two about them! I <3 it!

    1. Thanks Teresa! 😃💕 Yeah…humans can be super dumb. These creatures are harder to protect because they don’t rank as high on the cute scale (cuter endangered animals get more attention), so I’m doing everything I can to bring out the cute in these creatures! Hehe

  4. These are so cute, I watched a programme about them once, and was struck by the extended, hook insects finger……nature creates some strange inventions, although a great idea on paper…so impractical, easily broken, then how do you get those insects then? I thought to myself, ‘what was he thinking when he made this beautiful creature’? Lol I am sure the Aye Aye is quite attached to his extended tool! Great choice, shame they are endangered ( I am sure many of these strange animals will be).

    1. Thanks Rebecca! 😃💕 Yeah I had to rush my doodlewash on this one because I got distracted watching a video about them. 😊 hehe…so interesting. It’s wild to see how they forage for food. Nature makes whatever it needs to survive sometimes and it’s brilliant! But yeah…sadly the more uncommon the animal, the more likely it’s nearly endangered.

  5. Aye-Aye rather love him. So sad to read of his demise. We (as in the human-race) should celebrate his uniqueness… Oh here I go. Anyways love your doodlewash Charlie.

    1. Thanks so much Cathe! 😃💕 Yeah…the human race has a terrible habit of only wanting to protect things that are more similar to what they know and ignore things they don’t find “cute” enough. Hopefully I’ll be able to show the cute in these creatures so people will notice them.

    1. He is a bit alien…it’s that hand…so wild, my doodlewash barley does it justice (had trouble fitting the middle finger on the page…it’s actually a bit longer I think). Humans are usually always considered an endangered animals top predator or threat. We’re like global bullies.

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