A while back, I dropped a hint about a special baby we have on the campus.
His name is Chip, and he's a Mouse Lemur.
Ainatiana, one of the more mature students here at Onja acquired Chip, supposedly after Chip fell from a tree near Ainatiana's village in Anosibe Al'ana. Ainatiana brought him along to school so that he could continue to look after Chip while studying.
Mouse Lemurs are the smallest primates in the world. Some species' adults can only reach about 9 centimeters from top to opposing thumb-toe.
They're nocturnal omnivores. They eat the plentiful guavas, mangoes, and the endemic fruits here in Madagascar, as well as the insects they can find in the dark.
Chip seems to really like eating cockroaches. So you can imagine my satisfaction in catching a live cockroach, and saving it for Chip. Good riddance to ye cockroaches!
As with most wild animals they don't make good pets. The first reason is the vast difference between active hours. At the school, we spend each daylight hour working, and as the sun goes down, we retreat to our beds, just as Chip is waking up.
Secondly, they become dependent, and probably can't be rehabilitated to live in the wild. And to make matters worse, Chip bit Ainatiana for the first time this week after 6 weeks of keeping him. I wonder if this is Chip feeling threatened, or he's just been… institutionalised. (Hat-tip to The Shawshank Redemption).
I wonder if this is playing out like most experiences of keeping exotic animals as pets?
Ainatiana's hastily-drawn-up plan is to offload Chip to someone else. Part of me is sad that Ainatiana can just let go of the problem in this way, so I've contacted the Lemur Conservation Network. Let's hope a timely and appropriate solution is available!