...and adults!

Sprung! Aye-aye’s are now on the nose pickers list.

Digging for gold, pick and flick, picking a winner….we all have different names for it, but the formal medical term used to describe the act of picking one’s nose is “rhinotillexomania”.

Humans do it.  And so do many animals!

If there was an award for the #1 nose picker in the animal kingdom, we’re vote the Aye Aye!

This animal that has just been caught out for the very first time is an eye-watering visual! Prof Anne-Claire Fabre from the University of Bern filmed an Aye-aye at the Duke Lemur Center burying its long thin elongated finger in its nostril.

One feature that makes an Aye-aye very unique is a long thin middle finger on each hand which is a lot longer than the rest.  When an Aye-aye is looking for food, it taps on trees and listens for grubs. It then chews a hole into the wood. Once their powerful incisors have gnawed a small hole into the tree, it will insert its long middle finger and pull grubs out.

And it’s that long middle finger that is 8 cm (3.5”) long that goes up its nose which means that finger can reach all the way down the Aye-aye’s throat! When it finds some delectable tasty treat it, extracts it and eats it!


Credit: Edward Louis, Omaha Zoo

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Why you may ask.  Why does any other animal do it?  It’s possible that it’s purely to help clean mucus out of the nose, but why then do they eat it?  One study suggests that the boogers crunchy texture and salty flavour are satisfying.  (We want to know how researchers learn that it is salty flavoured!!) Some others thought that eating the boogers may help boost the immune system or prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth.

Oh and the technical term for eating the boogers is ‘mucophagy’.  

The discovery of the aye-ayes now known to be nose-pickers, takes the tally up to 12 primates who pick.  Some even use sticks to help dig for the prize!   

Aye-ayes which are a species of nocturnal lemurs that are only found on the island of Madagascar are classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List as their habitat is under threat and many native people to Madagascar consider the Aye-aye to be an omen of bad luck, so they have often been killed on sight.  Fortunately, they are now protected by law. 

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