The Aye-Aye

Aye-Aye Doodlewash

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


Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    What a sweet face and I love the middle finger! The discovery of the worlds strange animals is going to fun for all of us.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon! 😃💕Hehe…that middle finger is unsettling! lol Such a weird creature…will definitely get interesting this month!

  2. Curious to the Max 7 years ago

    I looked him in the eye.
    He pointed back
    Aye yi yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

  3. Nancy 7 years ago

    Hey, there was an episode of the Wild Thornberries (kids show) with an Aye-aye in it! Sorry to hear that they are endangered. They’re super cute.

  4. Jodi 7 years ago

    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!!! 🙂

    • Author

      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

  5. Damita M-S 7 years ago

    Cutie! Love it!

  6. Jacob 7 years ago

    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! 😉

    • Author

      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

      • Jacob 7 years ago

        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! 😛

  7. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    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!

    • Author

      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

      • Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

        You did a great job on that…if their numbers rebound, they will have you to thank! 😉

  8. Teri C 7 years ago

    I can see this latest endeavor of yours is going to be an education. Nice find and great sketch

  9. Susan Feniak 7 years ago

    I do believe I am going to learn something new everyday!! 🙂

  10. 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).

    • Author

      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.

  11. Oh, he could be one of Dracula’s minions lol!

  12. Cathe 7 years ago

    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.

    • Author

      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.

  13. memadtwo 7 years ago

    Would make a cute alien…as so many above have noted, humans need to grow up and stop destroying species and habitats. So sad to lose the unique and the strange…(K)

    • Author

      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.

      • memadtwo 7 years ago

        Yes we are! Although someone was telling me they read an article that in thousands of years the world would be ruled by giant rats…that’s a lovely thought, isn’t it?

  14. Kari 7 years ago

    I love the middle finger.. Hehe.. What an adorable face! I hope they are left alone by humans. It’s sad to see their numbers decline.

    • Author

      hehe… thanks Kari! 😀💕Yeah… I was this close to having it point as us, but decided that was too much! True… it’s sad to read about some of these creatures and discover their biggest threat comes from humans.

  15. Scribble Fiend 7 years ago

    Oh wow, never heard of the Aye-aye’s long middle finger before – you learn something new everyday!

    May I suggest the Saiga Antelope as a future doodlewash? I might give it a go myself!

    • Author

      Hehe…weird finger eh? And yes! The Saiga Antelope is cool! That nose!! And yes! You should give it a go!! 😃👍🏻

  16. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    Love this painting and the subject…cute and adorable. What a brilliant world it is…heartbreaking too for these precious creatures. Thanks for sharing.

  17. kathiwerner 7 years ago

    Lovely drawing and a great story about this weird little guy with his one long finger! <3

    • Author

      Hehe…yeah this was a weird one. I had trouble capturing this little guy. Cute and yet disturbing at the same time. 😳Thanks Kathrin!

  18. […] was not disappointed as it was just as adorable in person. I wanted to catch a glimpse of the far less adorable aye-aye, but it’s nocturnal and wasn’t about to come out and say hello just to assuage my […]

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