Primate of the Week: Lesser Southern Bushbaby

Galago moholi



  • Suborder: Strepsirrhini
  • Infraorder: Lorisiformes
  • Family: Galagidae


Lesser southern bushbabies are small prosimians. Males are larger than females by approximately twenty grams. They are grey to light brown fur that tends to be lighter on the limbs and ventral surface. Their ears are the large and are likely the largest ears in proportion to body sizes of all primates. Their ears can also move independently move. Lesser southern bushbabies have large orange eyes. Lesser southern bushbabies also have a toothcomb and a grooming claw that is found in other specie of Strepsirrhini. They have longer hind limbs than forelimbs that are adapted to vertical clinging and leaping. They also only contain 38 chromosomes (Fleagle, 1999; Harcourt & Beader, 1989).


Lesser southern bushbabies have a polygynous mating system with territory of dominant males overlapping with females. Females will have an unsynchronized estrous of 1 to 3 days. During this mating seasons males will increase their home range, body weight and testes in order to monopolize females. Males can be categorized as larger dominant males who monopolize females and smaller opportunistic males (Gron, 2008; Pullen, 2004).


Females and males become sexually mature at three hundred days. They have two mating season a year. Births will occur in either January and February or October and November. They will have 2 sets of twins a year. Females will construct nests in which they give birth and raise offspring. Weaning for the babies generally occurs at 93 days (de Magalhae, et al. 2009; Pullen, 2004).


Lesser southern bushbabies live in small social groups. They will generally sleep in groups of 2 to 7 during the day. Usually the groups compromise a female and several of her young. However at night groups will separate and forage alone. Dominant males tend to be more aggressive and larger. Juveniles will emigrate from their natal range. When two members of this species meet they will smell and touch nose and then groom each other or display aggressive behavior (Bearer, et al. 2008, Gron, 2008, Fleagle, 1999).


Lesser southern bushbabies are located in South Africa in areas of woodland, savanna, gallery forests and wooded areas edges. They are often found resting in the Acacia trees and mopane trunks in which they breed and rest (Bearer, et al. 2008; Caton et al. 2000). Lesser southern bushbabies eat arthropods and tree exudates. They plant exudates are scraped from trees via the tooth scraper during nightly visits. They will also eat plant gum and are more heavily used during the winter months due to the reduced amount of insect. Their tongues are rough and narrow and adapted for eating plant gums. They also will use their tooth scrapers for eating gum.



Bearer, S., T. Butynski, M. Hoffmann. 2008. “2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species” (On-line). Galago moholi. Accessed February 16, 2009 at

Caton, J., M. Lawes, C. Cunningham. 2000. Digestive strategy of the south-east African lesser bushbaby, Galago moholi.. Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology, 127/1: 39-48.

Gron, K. 2008. “Primate Factsheets: Lesser bushbaby (Galago) Behavior” (On-line). Accessed February 21, 2009 at


Harcourt, C., S. Bearder. 1989. A Comparison of Galago moholi in South Africa with Galago zanzibaricus in Kenya. International Journal of Primatology, 10/1: 35-45.

Pullen, 2004. Male mating behaviour and reproductive success in the lesser Galago (Galago moholi). Folia primatologica, 75/Suppl. 1: 89.

de Magalhaes, J., A. Budovski, G. Lehmann,Fraifeld, V., Church, G. M., J. Costa, J, Y. Li, V. Fraifeld. 2009. The Human Ageing Genomic Resources: online databases and tools for biogerontologists. Aging Cell, 8/1: 65-72.



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