The Bush Baby - Bouncy and Belligerent

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At night the African bush is alive with sounds and activity, from the roar of lions to the incessant chirping of cicadas – but nothing sends a chill down your spine like the sound of a bush baby.

Little things that wail in the night

With 18 different calls that vary from the ear-splitting scream of a woman in distress, to the out-of-place wailing of a baby, this little creature can cause instinctive rising panic in the heart of even the most experienced safari-goer in the dead of the night.

Thankfully these territorial calls are only a small part of their vocalisations, which usually involve communicating with each other via grunts, clicks and crackles.

Catching sight of the culprits

Day-time sightings of these lemur-like primates are rare and they are most often encountered on night drives although sometimes seen in the evenings around camp. If you do get to spot them you will be enchanted by their large childlike eyes, twitching ears and abrupt movements.

Their eyes are so large that they cannot move in their sockets. Bush babies have mastered the art of a 180° head-spin as they search for insects to eat, and keep a lookout for the owls, servals, genets, snakes and wild cats which fancy making a meal out of them.

Athletic antics

Their excellent hearing means they can pick up the sound of a gliding owl from some distance and escape to safety with incredibly quick, athletic jumps. Bush babies are so fast that they can snatch passing grasshoppers and moths out of the air with their front feet.

Despite their athletic prowess, bush babies are not able to move over large distances at speed, making them very vulnerable to fire. For this reason they are usually found in low fire-risk habitats such as moist short grasslands, savannahs, woodlands, riverine bush and the fringes of forests.

Misleading appearances

Although bush babies are undeniably cute and interesting to watch, they can be aggressive combatants and will fight to the death to win the favour of a lady. This is no surprise, since the females are notoriously promiscuous, mating with up to 6 suitors during a season after initially playing belligerently hard to get.

They also have some unsavoury habits such as urinating on their hands which enables them to adhere to branches more easily during their leaping antics, and marking their territories with strong-smelling chest gland secretions.

Catch up with these nifty little animals and other interesting creatures of the night on your evening game drives at Thornybush Collection.


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Sunday, 18 November 2018