Bush babies also referred as Galagos are scientifically known as Galago senegalensis. These extraordinary primates are one of the nocturnals that can be encountered during safaris in Uganda. Have you ever asked yourself or wondered where these animals derived their name? This and more interesting facts will be uncovered in this article. Well, bush babies derived their name from the child-like cries that they always use to separate their territories and interact with family members. Thus even with their small sizes, bush babies are known to be very “vocal little creatures”. These animals belong to the prosimian group of primates which also include the Lorises of Asia and Lemurs of Madagascar. However, they are believed to have evolved before monkeys and said to be nocturnals to avoid competition with other primate species.

There are a number of sub-species of these primates and their habitats range from forests, thickets to savannah woodlands, and in Uganda you can be able to encounter the four different Galago subspecies in different places.  The Dwarf bush babies are found within Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Parks, the eastern needle-clawed bush babies, Thomas Bush babies and the dwarf bush babies also call Kibale and Bwindi Impenetrable Forests home.

As earlier mentioned, Galagos are ancient primates that are closely related to the lemurs endemic to the Island of Madagascar but are distinguished by the silver grey, reddish to dark brown color of their coats with large ears and eyes and small heads. Their eyes are so enormous in relation to their heads to the point that they cannot even move them in the sockets. Interestingly, if it’s time for shifting their gaze, bush babies have to turn their entire head thus are able to stare directly backwards over their shoulders. Not only that, these primates have long hind legs, soft woolly fur as well as long tails.

They have delicate bat-like ears that allow them to easily catch their prey especially insects in the dark even while in flight. While leaping between thorny bushes, these primates fold back their large ears to protect them.

These animals are generally characterized by the long upper portion of their feet and their unique ability to fold their ears. As earlier said, they are nocturnal but omnivorous with their menu consisting of small birds, fruits, insects but mainly majority of gum species.

Besides their baby-like cries, bush babies make chattering, clucking and croaking sounds or thundering whistles incase of fear or danger and normally mark their territories and routes with urine.

They cling to and leap among tree branches and are exceedingly active and agile. When they go down to the ground, they sit upright move around jumping with their hind legs like Jerboas.

Their gestation period is three to four months and normally give birth to between one and two offsprings. Females become aggressive and overprotective before and after giving birth. Their young ones are breastfed for two months and later weaned to feed themselves from there onwards. Although weird, they grow very fast hence making mothers to move slowly and uneasily while transporting them hence at times she carries only one young one and leaves the rest in the nest.

Unlike other primates, bush babies live in relatively smaller groups usually comprising of the mother and her offsprings. The group will move around on their own to eat but surprisingly love physical contact hence will join other groups to rest during day.

Their predators are always genets, owls, eagles, Servals, African wild cats and large snakes hence the reason they always take refuge and hide during day so as to avoid direct encounter with the enemy. Because they are easily attacked and captured on the ground, they mainly stay in trees and depend on their unique jumping abilities.

Do you know how bush babies breed? Well, males check the reproductive readiness or condition of females by smelling their genitals.  The former always fight fiercely and the loser will either escape or risk being killed. If the female is on heat, she will aggressively repel the male’s first approaches. If she finally accepts, mating occurs repeatedly for around 5 minutes every two hours.

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