The Central African potto (Perodicticus edwardsi) is a nocturnal primate found in Central Africa. It is also known as Milne-Edwards's potto, after Alphonse Milne-Edwards.
Central African pottos have a similar appearance to other potto species. Pottos have long, slender bodies, large eyes, and small, round ears. They have woolly fur which is grey-brown in color. Pottos have strong limbs with opposable thumbs with which they grasp branches firmly; the second fingers on their limbs are short. These animals have a moist nose, toothcomb, and a toilet claw on the second toe of the hind legs. The neck has 4-6 low growths that cover their elongated vertebrae which have sharp points and nearly pierce the skin; these are used as defensive weapons. Both males and females have large scent glands under the tail, which they use to mark their territories and reinforce pair bonds. Pottos have a distinct odor that some observers have described as a smell of curry.
Central African pottos are found from Nigeria east to the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo, and south to Angola. These animals live in tropical moist forests both in lowlands and in mountains and in swamp forests.
Pottos are nocturnal tree-dwelling creatures; they sleep during the day in the leaves and rarely descend from the trees. These animals move slowly and carefully, always gripping a branch with at least two limbs. They are also quiet and avoid predators using cryptic movement. Their most common call is a high-pitched "tsic", which is usually used between mother and offspring. Central African pottos usually spend time in small groups of up to 3 individuals. They have large territories which the animals mark with urine and glandular secretions. Each male's territory generally overlaps with two or more females. Females may donate part of their territories to their daughters, but sons leave their mother's territory upon maturity. If threatened, pottos "freeze" and hide their face and neck-butt their opponent, using their unusual vertebrae. These animals can also deliver a powerful bite. Their saliva contains compounds that cause the wound to become inflamed.
Little is known about the mating system of pottos. It is suggested, however, that these animals may be polygynous where one male mates with more than one female. During the mating season pottos perform courtship rituals which include mutual grooming with claws and teeth, licking and scent-marking each other. These rituals are frequently performed while they hang upside down from a branch. Breeding can take place year-round and varies regionally. After a gestation period of about 193-205 days, the female gives birth, typically to a single young, occasionally twins. The infant weighs 30-52 g (1-1.8 ounces) at birth. The young first clings to the belly of the mother, but later she carries them on her back. The mother can also hide her offspring in the leaves while searching for food. After about 6 months, the infant is weaned and becomes fully mature after about 18 months.
Central African pottos are not considered threatened at present. Locally they suffer from the loss of their native habitat due to deforestation for agriculture and they are collected for the bushmeat trade.
According to IUCN Red List, the Central African potto is widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
Due to their frugivorous diet, pottos play an important role in their native ecosystem as they help disperse seeds of fruits they consume.