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Golden Potto (Arctocebus aureus)


MORPHOLOGY:
The average body mass for this species ranges from 266 to 465 grams (Nowak, 1999). The Golden potto has a reduced tail. The index finger is reduced (Rowe, 1996). The second digit on each toe functions as a grooming claw (Ankel-Simons, 2000). This species has a nictitating membrane, which is unique amongst primates (Montagna et al., 1966). This species has a pelage coloration that is reddish brown on the dorsal side and reddish buff on the ventral side (Rowe, 1996). On the face, there is a white line from the brow to the nose (Nowak, 1999).

RANGE:
This species is found in the following countries: Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. This species lives in tree-fall zones in primary and secondary forests, farmland edges, in forestry plantations, and in agricultural plantations (Charles-Dominique, 1974; Lee et al., 1988; Sabater Pi, 1972; Garcia and Mba, 1997).

ECOLOGY:
This species is primarily insectivorous, and eats mostly those insects that are unpalatable to other insectivores, but will also eat fruit. The diet of the golden potto is made up of 85% animal prey and 14% fruits (Hladik, 1979). Caterpillars (Lepidoptera) are the most common insects consumed with beetles (Coleoptera), ants (Hymenoptera), and crickets (Orthoptera) also eaten (Lee et al., 1988; Hladik, 1979; Charles-Dominique, 1974). This species will consume insects rejected by other animals (Hladik, 1979). The Golden potto tends to forage alone (Lee et al., 1988). Before eating a caterpillar, an individual will wipe its hands along the caterpillar, removing most of the hairs that could cause an irritation (Charles-Dominique, 1977). Gums constitute a scarce part of the diet of this species (Charles-Dominique, 1974). This species is found between 5 and 15 meters in the dense undergrowth preferring to spend most of the time on lianas and small branches (Lee et al., 1988). The Golden potto sleeps in trees with dense foliage cover (Charles-Dominique, 1977). This is a nocturnal and an arboreal species.

LOCOMOTION:
This species is a quadrupedal climber. The type of quadrupedal locomotion is slow and stealthy in which three limbs are always grasping a support when moving (Walker, 1979). The Golden potto mainly moves on supports of small diameters because of its small size, 40% have a diameter less than 1 centimeter and 52% of supports are between 1 and 10 centimeters (Walker, 1979; Charles-Dominique, 1974). When resting, this species may hang beneath a branch (Walker, 1979).

SOCIAL BEHAVIOR:
The males have home ranges that overlap the home ranges of a few females (2-3), called a noyau social system (Charles-Dominique, 1974). When this species mates, the male and female are suspended upside-down from a branch during copulation. Mothers will either carry their infants or park them while foraging (Lee et al., 1988).

VOCAL COMMUNICATION:
infant contact call: This is where an infant will emit at dawn "clicks" and "tsics" (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call functions to help locate the mother so that they may reunite before going to the sleeping site (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).

mother contact call: This is when a mother emits a loud "tsic" after an infant emits the infant contact call (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call functions to help the mother and infant reunite before going to the sleeping site (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).

contact-rejection call: This call is described as a "hoarse growl", an inspiration-expiration of the lungs (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979). This call is emitted when an individual is attacked and they will also roll up into a ball (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).

distress call: This call sounds like "weet" and is given when an individual is in pain (Petter and Charles-Dominique, 1979).

OLFACTORY COMMUNICATION:
passing over: this is where the male passes over the back of the female, rubbing her with his genitals, specifically with the scrotum (Manley, 1974). This behavior may be a single pass or occur in a series (Manley, 1974). Sometimes the male will leave a urine smear when performing this behavior (Manley, 1974). This occurs most often when the female is in estrus (Manley, 1974). It serves to scent mark the female (Manley, 1974).

alarm scent: when the Golden potto becomes alarmed it produces a fear scent (Manley, 1974).

VISUAL COMMUNICATION:

TACTILE COMMUNICATION:
social grooming: This is when an individual will groom another's fur using the tooth scraper and the tongue (Charles-Dominique, 1977). This behavior functions to reinforce social bonds between individuals (Charles-Dominique, 1977).

ANTIPREDATOR BEHAVIOR:
This species will role up into a ball, keeping the mouth open hidden beneath the armpit. If it is attacked, then it will bite the predator on the snout, not letting go. Infants will cling tightly to their mothers when she is alarmed (Manley, 1974). The newborns are born with eyes open and have the ability to cling to their mother's fur or tree branches (Klopfer and Boskoff, 1979).

REPRODUCTION:
This species gives birth to a single offspring. The gestation length for this species ranges from 131 to 136 days (Lee et al., 1988). The interbirth interval for this species is 4 months (Rowe, 1996). The birth season for the Golden potto is from the middle of the dry season to the beginning of the wet season that corresponds to the months of January to April (Sabater Pi, 1972). Copulation will only occur in this species in the final estrous cycle of the series (Van Horn and Eaton, 1979). The female will signal receptivity to copulation by the male by suspending herself upside down (Doyle, 1974).

REFERENCES:
Ankel-Simons, F. 2000. Primate Anatomy. Academic Press: San Diego.

Burton, F. 1995. The Multimedia Guide to the Non-human Primates. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.

Charles-Dominique, P. 1974. Ecology and feeding behaviour of five sympatric lorisids in Gabon. in Prosimian Biology. eds. R.D. Martin, G.A. Doyle, A.C. Walker. University of Pittsburgh Press: Pittsburgh.

Charles-Dominique, P. 1977 Ecology and Behaviour of Nocturnal Prosimians. Duckworth: London.

Doyle, G.A. 1974. Behavior of Prosimians. in Behavior of Nonhuman Primates Vol. 4. eds. A.M. Schrier and F. Stollnitz. Academic Press.

Estes, R. D. 1991. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. University of California Press.

Garcia, J.E. and Mba, J. 1997. Distribution, status and conservation of primates in Monte Alen National Park, Equatorial Guinea. Oryx. Vol. 31(1), 67-76.

Hladik, C.M. 1979. Diet and ecology of prosimians. in The Study of Prosimian Behavior. eds. G.A. Doyle and R.D. Martin. Academic Press: New York.

Klopfer, P.H. and Boskoff, K.J. 1979. Maternal behavior in prosimians. in The Study of Prosimian Behavior. eds. G.A. Doyle and R.D. Martin. Academic Press: New York.

Lee, P.C., Thornback, J., and Bennett, E.L. 1988. Threatened Primates of Africa: The IUCN Red Data Book. IUCN Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

Manley, G.H. 1974. Functions of the External Genital Glands of Perodicticus and Arctocebus. in Prosimian Biology. eds. R.D. Martin, G.A. Doyle, and A.C. Walker. University of Pittsburgh Press: Pittsburgh.

Montagna, W., Machida, H., and Perkins, E.M. 1966. The skin of primates XXXIII.: The skin of the angwantibo. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Vol. 25, 277-290.

Nowak, R.M. 1999. Walker's Primates of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.

Petter, J.J. and Charles-Dominique, P. 1979. Vocal communication in prosimians. in The Study of Prosimian Behavior. eds. G.A. Doyle and R.D. Martin. Academic Press: New York.

Rowe, N. 1996. The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates. Pogonias Press: East Hampton, New York.

Sabater Pi, J. 1972. Notes on the ecology of five Lorisiformes of Rio Muni. Folia Primatologica. Vol. 18, 140-151.

Van Horn, R.N. and Eaton, G.G. 1979. Reproductive physiology and behavior in prosimians. in The Study of Prosimian Behavior. eds. G.A. Doyle and R.D. Martin. Academic Press: New York.

Walker, A. 1979. Prosimian locomotor behavior. in The Study of Prosimian Behavior. eds. G.A. Doyle and R.D. Martin. Academic Press: New York.

Last Updated: October 4, 2003.
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