Senegal galago, Lesser galago, Lesser bush baby
A Senegal bush baby or galago has an intriguing, distinctive, resounding cry, huge eyes shaped like saucers, and a long bushy tail. This little primate has fur that is thick and, silvery-brown fur and overall has a very appealing look. Its large, round eyes provide good night vision and its delicate bat-like ears enable it to track insects in the dark. When jumping through thick growth or thorn bush, it folds its ears flat against its head to protect them and it folds them also when resting.
Senegal bush babies live in Africa, south from the Sahara, from Senegal in the west, through the savanna and open woodland of Africa, to Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia in the east and Kenya and Tanzania in the south. They also inhabit some nearby islands, Zanzibar among them. They prefer areas of dry forest and bush, and savannah regions.
Habits and lifestyle
Senegal bush babies are arboreal, gregarious, and nocturnal, and sleep during the day in tree forks, hollow trees, dense vegetation, or old birds' nests, usually in groups of a few individuals. At night they are solitary. When disturbed in the daytime, they may be very slow, but at night these animals are active and agile, and can jump 3 to 5 meters in one go. On level surfaces, a bush baby hops like a miniature kangaroo, but they usually travel by climbing and jumping through the trees. They moisten their feet and hands with urine, which is thought to assist in holding onto branches and may function as scent marking as well. They have a high-pitched, chirping call which is made most often during mornings and evenings. Tactile communication, during play, grooming and aggression, is important for these animals, especially between mothers and their offspring and between mates.
Diet and nutrition
Senegal bush babies are omnivores, they mostly eat grasshoppers, but also small birds, eggs, seeds, fruits, and flowers.
Senegal bush babies are usually polygynous. A male competes for access to several females and their home ranges. They breed twice per year: when the rains begin in November and during the period when the rains end in February. A female builds a nest from leaves in which to bear and raise her young. Litters usually number one or two (rarely three) and young are born during April to November, following gestation from 110 to 120 days. The young typically nurse until they are three and a half months old, although they will eat solid food after one month. They are usually transported by clinging to their mother's fur or in her mouth by her holding onto the back of their necks. Mothers will leave their young in the nest unattended while they forage. Females usually become sexually mature at 240 days of age and males at 300 days of age.
There are currently no significant threats to Senegal bush babies.
According to IUCN, Senegal bushbaby is common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) and its numbers today remain stable.
As insect predators, this species probably helps control their prey populations. They may also play a part in the dispersal of seeds due to their frugivory diet. Being a potential prey species, they also may affect predator populations.
Fun facts for kids
- A Senegal bush baby will always land on its feet when it falls. When traveling along the ground, it hops on its two hind legs. Bush babies in one study hopped 164 feet (50 m) during their foraging on the ground.
- The plaintive cries and endearing appearance probably accounts for their name "bush baby."
- There are superstitions about the Senegal bush baby among many African tribes - they say its chattering, laughing sounds are those of a huge mysterious snake which has a feathered head and rainbow colors, and will kill an evil intruder by pecking a hole in its head.
- Some African tribes will catch bush babies by putting out saucers filled with palm wine that the animals then drink.
- The eyes of Senegal bush babies are very sensitive, and during the day, their pupils are reduced to a tiny slit. During the night, their pupils become complete circles to enable the animals to see better in the dark.
- At the back of a bush baby’s large eyes is the tapetum, a highly light-reflective layer. If light is shone at the tapetum at the right angle, the “eye shine” produced may be quite dazzling. Some believe a Senegal bush baby’s eyes can hypnotize you.
- Adults of this species use 18 distinct calls, the low-pitched “woo” being the loudest and most distinctive.