Aye-Aye, a curious animal discovered by Sonnerat in Madagascar, constituting the genus cheiromys of Sonnini. The common name seems to have been derived either from an exclamation of the natives or the cry of the animal; the generic name, meaning "handed mouse," implies its resemblance to a large rat, with feet like hands. Cuvier placed it among the rodents, near the flying squirrels, but he recognized the mouse-like structure of the head; Shaw, Schreber, and later Owen, ranked it among the lower quadrumana, the lemuridm; while Van der Hoeven regarded it as a link between the monkeys and the rodents. Its probable place is among the quadrumana, near the lemurs, though it has interesting affinities to the rodents and bats. The incisor teeth are like those of rodents in number, position, and length of root, though more compressed laterally and sharp-pointed; the canines are absent; the molars are 4 above and 3 below on each side. In its head and general shape it resembles the galagos of the lemur family; the large, flat, erect, and naked ears are like those of the bats; the last two joints of the middle finger of the fore feet are very long, slender, and bare, useful in picking larvae out of holes in trees, and perhaps in climbing; all the feet have 5 fingers, the thumbs of the hind feet being opposable to the others, as in the monkeys; the head is rounded, and the muzzle short and pointed; the tail is long, heavily furred, and trails upon the ground.
The color is rusty brown above, the cheeks, throat, and under parts light gray; paws nearly black; the hair is thick and downy, of a golden tint at the roots. It is about the size of a hare, the tail being as long as the body. The movements are slow, but more active than those of the loris. The eyes are large, yellow, and sensitive to light, as in all nocturnal creatures. It is believed to be a burrower, though it is also found on trees. The food is probably both fruits and insects, as in the lemur family; it thrives in captivity on boiled rice. It sleeps by day, curled up in the hollow of a tree or other dark place. Unlike the quadrumana, this animal has the mamma) on the lower part of the abdomen, instead of upon the breast.
Aye-Aye (Cheiromys Madagascaricus).