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Senegal Bushbaby Fact File

Galago senegalensis

Weight

95-300g

(3.3-10.6oz)

Length

8-21cm

(3.25-8.25in)

Lifespan

Wild 4 years

Captive 10-13 years

Diet

Omnivore

Eggs, Fruits, Insects

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The Senegal bushbaby is a small prosimian found across parts of West and Central Africa. Four subspecies of the Senegal bushbaby are recognized.

These primates are noticeable due to their large ears which help them to spot prey. Their large round eyes give them the ability to see in the dark.

As an omnivore their highly variable diet includes insects, fruit, eggs, sap, flowers and more. This varied diet assists them to survive during periods of drought.

While the population is considered stable these animals face a number of threats including hunting for the bushmeat trade and habitat destruction.

Read on to learn more about the amazing mammals.

Appearance

Across the body the fur of the Senegal bushbaby is colored brown or gray.

One of the most notable features of the Senegal bushaby is the ears. These large, triangular shaped ears protrude upward from the head and are covered with hair on the back. These are an adaptation which assist them to hear their prey. These ears can move independent of one another.

The eyes of the bushbaby are large to help them see where they are going in the dark. Their pupil is colored brown or yellow. These eyes sign red in torchlight at night.

Their head has the ability to rotate up to 180 degrees which gives them the ability to see a wide range around them.

At the end of the body is a long tail helping them to keep their balance while running through the trees.

An average Senegal bushbaby will measure 8-21cm (3.25-8.25in) long with a weight of 95-300g (3.3-10.6oz). Males and females are similar in size and appearance.

Diet


Senegal bushbabies are omnivores. They feed on a range of food with the mainstay of their diet being insects. Eggs, nestlings, seeds, sap, flowers, tree gum and fruits may also be consumed.

Insects can form the base of their diet in the wet season but during periods of drought they rely on tree sap.

Senegal Bushbaby

Range

Africa is the native home of the Senegal bushbaby. Here they can be found in the following countries – Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; The Democratic Republic of the Congo; Côte d'Ivoire; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Mali; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo and Uganda.

Habitat

Senegal bushbabies make their home in savanna woodland, bushland, montane forest and riverine woodland.

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Reproduction

Both males and females may mate with multiple partners. The males will mate to gain access to the females.

Two mating seasons occur each year. These match up with the warm seasons.

A single young is most common but twins and occasionally even triplets are possible. These are born after a 3-4 month gestation period. Twins make raising the young more difficult as they carry the young in their mouth for the first two weeks of life.

The young are left in the nest and the female will return to feed her young regularly. Weaning occurs within 10 and 14 weeks of birth. Males provide no parental care.

Sexual maturity is reached as early as 6-7 months old for females. Males are sexually mature by a year old and will move out of their birth group at this point.

Behavior

Their alternative name of bush baby comes from their alarm call. This sounds similar to the call of a baby crying.

The Senegal bushbaby is considered nocturnal.

These animals are arboreal and spend much of their time in the trees. The nest in a dense thorn tree or a tree hole. They may also make use of the abandoned nests of birds. Their elongated back legs help them to hop and leap across the ground similar to kangaroos. They were recorded to hop 50m (164ft) in one study.

Before moving through the trees they will urinate on the hands and feet which provides better group. It is also though that this helps them navigate back to their nest.

A Senegal bushbaby will live as part of a group which includes 2-5 individuals though they forage outside of these groups.

They have the ability to hear extremely high frequency calls. These are too high for their predators to hear and are used by mothers and their young to communicate.

Adults use a range of calls including a low-pitched woo.

Senegal bushbabies can undertake a period of torpor (similar to a temporary hibernation) which assists them to conserve energy. This can last for just a few hours.

Senegal Bushbaby
Senegal Bushbaby

Predators and Threats

Natural predators include birds such as raptors, small cats, jackals, mongooses, genets and snakes. Larger primates such as chimpanzees have also been observed to hunt bushbabies. Chimpanzees have been seen hunting them using spears.

The population of the Senegal bushbaby is decreasing throughout their range.

They do show a small ability to survive in areas which have been affected by humans and their settlements.

Declines have been attributed to habitat loss from clear cutting and to allow for agriculture. These problems are intensified by the quickly expanding population in their range.

Hunting for the bushmeat trade is another threat to the Senegal bushbaby.

Quick facts

The Senegal bushbaby is known by a number of alternative common names including the Senegal galago, Northern lesser galago and the bush baby.

Senegal bushbabies are part of a primitive group of primates known as prosimians. They have the widest distribution of this species to live in Africa.

These primates are thought to be a carrier of the yellow fever virus.

Four species of the Senegal bushbaby are recognized. These are the Kenya lesser galago, Ethiopia lesser galago, Senegal lesser galago and the Uganda lesser galago.

Senegal Bushbaby

Photo Credits

Top, Bottom and Middle Two (Left)

Petr Hamerník, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle One

Rachad sanoussi, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle Two (Right)

OpenCage, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

National Geographic Society (U. S.), 2012. National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia. Natl Geographic Soc Childrens Books.

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.

de Jong, Y.A., Butynski, T.M., Svensson, M. & Perkin, A. 2019. Galago senegalensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T8789A17963505. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T8789A17963505.en. Downloaded on 24 July 2021.

Mpalalive.org. 2021. Mpala Live! Field Guide: Senegal Bushbaby | MpalaLive. [online] Available at: <https://www.mpalalive.org/field_guide/senegal_bushbaby> [Accessed 24 July 2021].

Thewebsiteofeverything.com. 2021. Senegal bushbaby – pictures and facts. [online] Available at: <https://thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Primates/Galagonidae/Galago/Galago-senegalensis.html> [Accessed 24 July 2021].

New England Primate Conservancy. 2021. Northern Lesser Galago. [online] Available at: <https://www.neprimateconservancy.org/northern-lesser-galago.html> [Accessed 24 July 2021].

Ballenger, L. 2001. "Galago senegalensis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 23, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Galago_senegalensis/

Animal Experiences At Wingham Wildlife Park In Kent. 2021. Senegal Bush Baby – Animal Experiences At Wingham Wildlife Park In Kent. [online] Available at: <https://winghamwildlifepark.co.uk/animal/senegal-bush-baby/> [Accessed 24 July 2021].

African Wildlife Foundation. 2021. Lesser bush babies is possibly one of the most widespread of the tiny primate species. [online] Available at: <https://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/lesser-bush-baby> [Accessed 24 July 2021].

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