Madagascar is home to hundreds of fascinating, colorful, bizarre, endangered , rare and extraordinary looking animal life. Read on to learn new facts about 10 extraordinary looking Madagascan creatures.
The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a species of lemur native to the east coast of Madagascar. The species inhabit rainforest or deciduous forest. The world’s largest nocturnal primate, the bizarre aye- is currently classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN.
The Aye-aye has a black or brown thick coat. It has yellowish-orange eyes, large, sensitive ears, and a long, bushy tail. It has 5-fingered hands with a very long middle finger and curved, claw-like nails. It measures 36 to 43 cm (14 to 17 in) head-body length with a long tail that is 56 to 61 cm (22 to 24 in). It weighs about 2 kg (4 pounds). It has a strange method of finding food; it gnaws an opening in the wood, inserts its narrow middle finger and digs out its prey. Its diet includes; insects, insect larvae, nuts, fruits, nectar and seeds.
The Giraffe weevil (Trachelophorus giraffa) is a newly found species of weevil native to Madagascar. This extraordinary looking Madagascan creature gets its name from an extended neck resembling that of a giraffe. The male’s neck, which is three times longer than the female of the species is used to fight for mates. This elongated neck is also useful in nest building.
Little is known about this bizarre creature. The beetle’s body is generally black in color with unique red elytra covering the flying wings. Males measure about 2.5 cm long. Since the species was only discovered in 2008, no conclusive findings are established whether the giraffe weevil is threatened or endangered.
Eastern Woolly Lemur
The Eastern woolly lemur (Avahi laniger), also referred to as the Gmelin’s woolly lemur or eastern avahi is a bizarre looking woolly lemur found only on the eastern sides of the island of Madagascar. This nocturnal animal lives in monogamous pairs in tropical moist lowland and mountainous forest.
Eastern Woolly lemurs are generally typically reddish-brown or gray-brown in color with thick, tightly-curled fur. The appendages are white and the thin, elongated tail is reddish-orange. The species have a rounded head, large eyes and a short snout. Head-body length measures 25-30 cm with a tail about 32-37 cm long. Adults weigh 1-1.3 kg. Avahi laniger is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
The Comet moth (Argema mittrei) or Madagascan moon moth is a striking moth that lives in the rain forests of Madagascar. One of the most beautiful moths in the world, the species got its name after its long red ‘tails’. Although endangered in the wild, this extraordinary looking creature is being successfully bred in captivity.
Males have an average wingspan of nearly 8 inches and a tailspan of almost 6 inches. Adults can only live for 4-5 days, however, females of the species can lay from 120-170 eggs. Its caterpillars feed only on fresh Eugenia and eucalyptus leaves.
Flatid Leaf Bugs
The Flatid Leaf Bug (Phromnia rosea) is a kind of Planthopper known for its piercing mouthparts , which it uses to suck sap out of plants. Another extraordinary looking Madagascan creature, adult Flatid Leaf Bug is pink-red in color with large wings that entirely cover the body. The nymph (young bug) looks a bit different from its parents. It looks like cotton wool –fluffy, hairy and lacks the wings of an adult. During the nymph stage, it emits a white wax-like substance that is actually for camouflage and protection against predators.
Lowland Streaked Tenrec
The Lowland Streaked tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus) is a medium-sized mammal that resembles a cross between a shrew and a hedgehog. The species is found in tropical lowland rainforest and scrublands in eastern Madagascar. When in danger, this creature will curl into a ball, leaving only sharp spines—exposed.
This slender tenrec is blackish-brown in color with yellowish longitudinal stripes running the length of the body. Also, it has a long snout and limbs. An adult can reach up to 20 cm (8 in) long and weighs up to 275 g (0.6 lb). This social animal feeds mainly on worms and grubs. The lowland streaked tenrec is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
Spiny Leaf Chameleon
The Spiny Leaf chameleon (Brookesia decaryi) is a small chameleon restricted to the island of Madagascar and lives in dry deciduous forest. The species is diurnal and rest on small plants at night. Little is known about the species, but studies revealed that some individuals live up to two years. The spiny leaf chameleon is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.
The Madagascan Tomato Frog (Dyscophus antongilii)is native only to forested areas in the northwest part of Madagascar. This extraordinary looking frog breeds in swamps, shallow pools and areas with stagnant water. Tomato Frogs rarely move and occasionally blinks. A nocturnal creature it burrows into the ground during daytime. At night, it stalks and ambush its prey.
Males measure to about 6 – 6.5 cm (2.0-2.5 in) in body length while females are larger measuring from 8.5 cm-10.5 cm (3.0 -4.0 in). Females are solid bright red or orange in color, males are duller yellow-orange. Some individuals have black spots on the throat. Its diet includes bugs, crickets and invertebrates. The tomato frog is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List.
The Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) is a carnivorous mammal that resembles a cougar. It is native to Madagascar and prefers forested areas as habitat. The species has a slender body, a short fur, a mongoose-like head and powerfully built limbs. It has medium brown eyes, broad muzzle, large, but rounded ears, and a tail nearly as long as the entire body. Adults measure 70–80 cm (28–31 in) head-body length and weigh between 5.5–8.6 kg (12–19 lbs). This ferocious carnivores prey on small to medium-sized animals. The fossa is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.
The Silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus) is a large lemur found only in restricted areas in northeastern Madagascar. The species prefers rainforests as habitat. It is one of the rarest mammals on earth. Furthermore, the silky sifaka is well-known for its loud, sneeze-like “zzuss” alarm call.
This extraordinary looking Madagascan creature is characterized by its long, silky white fur, and distinctive chest patches. Its eyes are orange-red in color; the ears and face are hairless. Adults measure from 48–54 cm (1.6–1.8 ft) in head-body length with a tail growing to about 45–51 cm (1.5–1.7 ft) long, and weigh between 5–6.5 kg (11–14 lbs). It feeds primarily on leaves and seeds. The Silky sifaka is listed as Critically Endangered CE on the IUCN Red List.