Animals

Bushbabies

Juvenile Grant's bushbaby

Bushbabies, also known as galagos, are primates that belong to the family Galagidae. Along with lorises and pottos, they make up the superfamily Lorisiformes.  The Lorisiformes and the lemurs are wet-nosed primates, or Strepsirrhini. The Strepsirrhini look like they have dog noses.

Bushbabies live in trees in Africa.

 They are small animals, ranging in weight from 2 ounces to 3.1 pounds (60 grams to 1.4 kilograms).  

The smallest bushbaby, Prince Demidoff’s bushbaby, or Prince Demidoff’s galago (Galago demidoff), is also the smallest African primate.  The thick-tailed greater bushbaby, or the thick-tailed greater galago (Otolemur crassicaudatus), is the largest bushbaby.

Bushbabies have soft woolly red, gray or brown fur, which is lighter on the belly.  They are nocturnal animals and have huge eyes with a reflective layer that allows them to see in the dark. These eyes shine in the dark like cats’ eyes. They have big ears that can move to focus on sounds.

Their long hind legs allow them to move quickly through the trees, jumping from branch to branch.

Some can jump more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) high.  Their long tails, which have bushy tips, help them to keep their balance.

The second toe on a bushbaby’s hind leg has a long, curved claw that is used for grooming.

Bushbabies eat insects, fruit, leaves and tree gum. They can leap into the air and catch insects in flight.

They live in small social groups of up to about 11 individuals and communicate by facial expression, scent and sound. They are called bushbabies because they make a loud call that sounds like the cry of a human baby. Bushbabies scent mark by wiping their urine onto their hands and feet so the urine gets on to branches. This also helps them grip on to the branches when they leap.

Usually, bushbabies sleep in nests in tree hollows, but some species use leaves to make nests in the forks between branches.

Jackals, mongooses, monkeys and owls eat bushbabies, as do domestic dogs and cats.  Chimpanzees use tools to hunt them.

The number of bushbabies is decreasing, and some species are critically endangered. Numbers have been reduced because of habitat loss and the pet trade.

Bushbabies do not make good pets. Because they are used to living in social groups, they become very stressed when they are confined by themselves.  Like other primates, they can spread many dangerous diseases to humans. Bushbabies may carry salmonella and yellow fever.