The angwantibo, or 'golden potto' as it is sometimes referred to as, is an elusive creature native to Ethiopia but is also found in parts of the Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is an unusual little primate, and was discovered by Europeans in 1860. The word 'angwantibo' is presumed to have derived from 'angwan', the word used by West Africans for 'cat'.
A member of the family Lorisidae, the angwantibo is closely related to bush babies and lorises. It is relatively small, reaching an average length of 10 inches and its weight ranges between 266-465g. Its body is short and compact, while its limbs are proportionately long and agile. In common with other pottos, it has large, front-set eyes which are highly adapted to nocturnal settings. Its tail is no more than a rudimentary stump, and is usually concealed beneath the creature's fur, whereas the animal's ears are round and naked, while the hands and feet are only sparsely-furred.
The colouration of the fur varies greatly among subspecies, with the most common of these variations being a tawny gold colour with thick and wool-like fur. Their hands and feet, however, are highly specialised and are perhaps one of the angwantibo's more intriguing features.
The Angwantibo's index fingers are vestigial tubercles, no more than a tiny bump on the paw, while the other fingers are long and flexible. The middle finger is the longest of the four, and is used in grooming. Angwantibos have an uncanny ability to grip tightly onto branches and remain in such positions for long periods of time. Indeed, these animals often sleep hanging upside-down.
For reference, an images of this creature can be found at:
Angwantibos inhabit many areas of tropical forest, preferring areas of dense vegetation and lower sections of undergrowth. They are rarely found more than 15 metres from the ground. Though the angwantibo tends to be a solitary animal, the territories of males usually overlap those of several females.
Angwantibos are primarily insectivorous, though they have been known to eat small amounts of fruit on occasion. They are particularly fond of caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects, and will remove any defensive hairs from the prey before consuming. They are also adept at catching moths in mid-air, rearing onto the hind paws quickly and catching the insects by surprise.
Angwantibos are unusually quiet and reclusive creatures, though they have been known to make some vocalisations such as growls and hisses when defending their territory or warding off predators. Upon being disturbed or attacked, the angwantibo will hold tightly onto a branch, protecting its head by keep it hidden beneath an arm.
Females can breed more than once a year, and the breeding season tends to occur throughout the dry season and on into the wet season. Sexual maturity occurs between the ages of eight and ten months, and a single male will breed with any females whose territories overlap his own. Females will typically signal their readiness for breeding by hanging upside-down from a branch, where copulation usually occurs.
A single offspring is born after 131-136 days and will cling tightly to its mother's underside for three-four months, after which time it is weaned. The angwantibo reaches maturity at about six months of age and thereafter leaves its mother's territory. Male angwantibos do not care for the young.
Impact on Humans
Angwantibos pose no risk to humans and do not harm crops. However, humans, through massive deforestation and over-hunting, have threatened the survival of this species.