I’ve decided to dedicate my second DLC post to the amazing nocturnal primates that call Durham, NC home. The Duke Lemur Center has specially equipped facilities to allow researchers to study these amazing creatures during our own daily light cycles. Simply put, the rooms are all painted pitch black and are lit with red lights during human work hours (about 10AM – 4:30PM). During these red-light hours, the caretakers feed and tend to the needs of each area, whether it be cleaning, vet visits, trials for experiments, etc. After the workday ends, each room is then lit with white light to simulate the daytime, also known as bedtime for the nocturnal creatures. The DLC houses a few populations of nocturnal lemurs as well as a few species of lorises and thick-tailed bushbabies.
The DLC currently has three species of nocturnal lemurs: aye-ayes, fat-tailed dwarf lemurs, and gray mouse lemurs (see pictures to the right and below). There are few things in the world that are more adorable than primates that can fit in the palm of your hand, and the gray mouse lemurs are exceptionally cute. Ranging from 1.5-3 ounces, Microcebus murinus appear to be something more akin to a hamster than to apes, but they are more genetically similar to humans than mice/rodents. And they aren’t even considered the smallest lemurs (click button below for more info)! The DLC houses North America’s only breeding colony with close to 50 individuals, and all of them were sleeping or getting their cages cleaned when we walked through (hence only one still below).
The aye-ayes fulfill the role of a primate-woodpecker: they use their enormous, ever-growing incisors to gnaw holes into trees in places where they’ve detected a tasty grub by using their elongated middle fingers and huge bat-like ears. Below you will find a button to take you to a bunch of aye-aye feeding videos, and I apologize ahead of time if you become too entranced to get any work done for the rest of the day. I can only describe the aye-aye as the best possible combination of cute, creepy, and utterly fascinating, and David's lucky to be working with them in his future dissertation research. Please enjoy my video of David and Kyle feeding Merlin the aye-aye below, and share with your friends!