🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Bush Babies

Galagos, also known as bushbabies, bush babies or Nagapies (meaning "little night monkeys" in Afrikaans), are small, nocturnal primates native to continental Africa, and make up the family Galagidae (also sometimes called Galagonidae). They are sometimes included as a subfamily within the Lorisidae or Loridae.

According to some accounts, the name bush baby comes from either the animal's cries or appearance. The South African name Nagapie comes from the fact they are almost exclusively seen at night.

Galagos have large eyes that give them good night vision, strong hind limbs, acute hearing, and long tails that help them balance. They have nails on most of their digits, except for the second toe of the hind foot, which bears a 'toilet' claw for grooming. Their diet is a mixture of insects and other small animals, fruit, and tree gums

Bush baby

Galagos have remarkable jumping abilities, including the ability to jump up to 2 meters vertically. This is thought to be due to elastic energy storage in tendons of the lower leg, allowing far greater jumps than otherwise possible for an animal of their size. They often urinate on their feet as this enhances their grip capability

After a gestation period of 110-133 days, young Galagos are born with half-closed eyes and are initially unable to move about independently. After a few days (6–8 days), the mother carries the infant in her mouth, and places it on branches while feeding.

Females maintain their territory but share them with their offspring. Males leave their mothers' territories after puberty but females remain, forming social groups consisting of closely related females and their young. Adult males maintain separate territories, which overlap with those of the female social groups; generally, one adult male mates with all the females in an area. Males who have not established such territories sometimes form small bachelor groups.

Galago moholi
Photo: Gerald Doyle

While their keeping as pets is not advised (like many other non-human primates, they are considered likely sources of zoonoses, diseases that can cross species barriers) it is certainly done. Equally, they're highly likely to attract attention from customs officials on importation into many countries. Reports from veterinary and zoological sources indicate captive lifetimes of 12 to 16.5 years, suggesting a natural lifetime of the order of a decade

Galagos communicate both by calling to each other, and by marking their paths with urine. At the end of the night, group members use a special rallying call and gather to sleep in a nest made of leaves, a group of branches, or a hole in a tree.

Bush Baby at night

Both bush babies and galagos often share habitats with monkeys, but as bush babies are nocturnal they do not compete ecologically with monkeys. Bush babies are found throughout East Africa, as well as in woodlands and bush lands in sub-Saharan Africa. They generally do not inhabit areas above altitudes of 6,500 feet. Most often they live in tree hollows that provide shelter. Sometimes they construct nests in the forks of branches, but these are not as commonly used as are natural holes. Bush babies prefer trees with little grass around them, probably as a precaution against wild fires. They will also shelter in manmade beehives.

Food and Feeding
During the rainy season, bush babies eat mainly insects such as caterpillars & dung beetles, which they catch by pouncing on them. They are quick enough to catch mice & lizards. In addition, they raid birds' nests for eggs. Bush babies eat flowers, fruits, pollen, nectar, & honey from wild bees as well. In the dry season, their diet changes as food becomes scarce. They rely on the resin of Acacia & Albizzia trees, & they only survive in areas where these trees grow.


  1. What wonderful eyes these little chaps have.

  2. They are absolutely beautiful Glennis! Don't you have Bush Babies in your area?

  3. Hey I have 4-6 bushbabies that visit my garden most evenings. I would like to tame them a bit so that I can try and get some photos. Does anyone have an idea on what to feed them and how to present it?
    Phil in Botswana

    1. We put out peeled bananas, broken into pieces about an inch long, on the veranda wall. The climb off the roof via a tree onto the veranda, and we watch them from the lounge. They are quite tame now and don't take off if we move around. We also have a stone bird bath on the wall that they drink from.

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    I would suggest that you Google the feeding habits of bush babies and that will give you an idea of what to present to them - they are little carnivores and love moths and big fat crickets! So you could also run around your garden at night, catching these and putting them (slightly dead!) in a bowl on a feeding table attached to one of the trees. Just a suggestion!


  5. Leave nature to nature

    do not feed wild animals for your self gratification... this is what causes extinction over time...

    humans gratifying themselves at the sacrifice of wild animals... take photos but leave them alone!!

  6. Hi Anonymous, I understand your concern about interfering with animals in the wild, but I cannot see how putting out food for them can cause extinction. To the contrary, much of our wild life is often dependant on that little extra sustenance provided, especially in the winter. There is so much habitat destruction that it is becoming more and more difficult for them to find the necessary food in their natural environment, especially Hedgehogs, as they have to travel further and further across dangerous terrain. Providing a safe haven with food and water ensures their continued existence in our urban environments.

    Thank you for your visit!

  7. Hi! I used to have some bushbabies coming to my garden at evenings, BUT a neighbour is using now a sound deterrent and i haven't seen them for a while. Any idea how to cancel the deterrent, please? How can i 'bring' them back...? It is sad to 'see' people who doesn't like nature...so sad!
    Limpopo, RSA

    1. That is really sad Anonymous! I have heard of these sound deterrents and I have no advice for that except to get rid of the neighbours! lol!

  8. Hi

    I have just found a bush baby in my tree outside - what must I do? if I leave it there and it falls out of the tree, my dogs could kill it. Is there a number that I can call regarding this?

    1. Hi Anon, if the bush baby is not injured, I would recommend leaving it well alone, it won't just fall out of the tree. If it is injured, and you can reach it, you could possibly take it to your nearest vet who might be able to help. I certainly hope the little fellow is OK and just investigating your garden! Putting out some fruit for them is always welcome.

  9. I rescued a bushbaby with an injured eye some years ago. While she was healing she gave birth. When her eye was healed, I released the mother and baby but baby refused to go. He was bor n in the cage and kept coming back. The cage blew open one night and he went foraging but the next morning he was back waiting to get back in. So now he lives with me. This morning I found another baby under my car. Much as I don't want to interfere with nature zi will have to raise this one too.



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