The Bush Baby
Because the bush baby's call sounds like the shouts of an excited child, British explorers gave it its English name. The longest recorded leap by a bush baby from one tree to another was 23 feet. Learn more.
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. There are four species of the African bush baby, of which the Senegal galago, or lesser bush baby, is the most widespread. Usually less than 8 inches long, with a tail longer than its body, the bush baby is capable of leaping great distances from tree to tree.
The bush baby is a nocturnal animal. During the day, as many as 20 of them crowd together to sleep in an enclosed space, such as a hollow tree trunk. At dusk, they wake and split into family groups and go searching for food. The groups forage separately all night, each group defending its own territory of 15 to 20 acres. They warn off other groups with loud, ringing calls. At dawn, the rivalry ends and they return to their den to sleep together again. A family group defends its territory by marking it with the scent of their urine. They mark twigs and branches and any new or unfamiliar object in the area. Other groups recognize the lingering smell and keep away from that family’s territory.
During the rainy season, bush babies eat mainly insects, such as caterpillars and dung beetles, which they catch by pouncing on them. They are quick enough to catch mice and lizards. In addition, they raid birds nests for the eggs. Bush babies eat flowers, fruits, pollen, nectar, and honey from wild bees as well. In the dry season, their diet changes as food becomes more scarce. They rely on the resin of acacia and albizzia trees, and they can only survive in areas in which these trees grow.
Bush babies mate at the end of the rainy 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 three days, she remains hidden, suckling and protecting her tiny offspring. Thereafter, she either leaves her young concealed in the nest while she goes to feed or carries them with her. The youngsters cling tightly to her body, with their tails wrapped around her neck. The young are weaned after six weeks and can feed themselves by eight weeks. At 4 months old, they are fully grown.
Populations of bush babies are stable and all species are currently secure: there is no threat to their survival as long as habitats remain stable.