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
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.
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.