Galagos of Africa

There are numerous species of Galagos but we will only be focusing on the Lesser Bushbaby and Thick-Tailed bushbaby today, both of which are closely related to lemurs. The lesser Bushbaby is the smallest of the two (about the size of a rat) and is best known while the Thich-Tailed Bushbaby is the size of a cat.

The Lesser Bushbaby is capable of leaping large distances from vertical branch to vertical branch. On the ground, the Lesser Bushbaby hops like a kangaroo on its hind legs. The Thick-Tailed Bushbaby is more social than the Lesser Bushbaby. Bushbabies have a second toe which is modified as a toilet claw. This pointed claw is used to groom the head and neck fur and to clean the ears.

Bushbabies are highly social and live in complex family groups. At the end of the night, group members use a special rallying call and gather to sleep in a nest made of leaves, a group of branches, or a hole in a tree. Their small size is no comparison for their big lungs and have a range of calls from grunts, clicks and crackles with a territorial call.

The Bushbabies or the Galagos of Africa are the smallest primates on the continent. The Bushbaby is also called “Nagaapie” in Afrikaans, meaning “little night monkey”. Galagos are quite common yet are not easily seen due to them being nocturnal. Even so, they are more often heard and sounds like a child screaming bloody murder, hence the name “Bushbaby”. Many lodge guests have mistaken these loud mouths as children being abused and have complained. Bushbabies are best known for their huge round eyes that can’t move…at all… so, the Bushbaby does a weird owl head rotating movement to look at its surroundings.

When urinating, Galagos cup their hands and then dribble urine all over them. They will then proceed by rubbing their hands and feet together for a better sticky grip and the smelly footprints acts as a territory marking method. Did I mention that these small primates are kept as pets? It makes sense to own this bundle of “cuteness” but I wouldn’t recommend it with their pee-pee covered hands and screams of terror in the middle of the night. It could become an inconvenience.

Written By: Tersha van Staden

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