Calabar Angwantibo, Arctocebus calabarensis

The Calabar angwantibo (Arctocebus calabarensis), or Calabar potto, is a primate that is native to West Africa. Its range includes Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and Nigeria, from where it derives its name from the city of Calabar. It prefers habitats within rainforests, specifically where trees have fallen, and it has even been spotted residing on farmlands.

The Calabar potto can weigh an average between 9.3 ounces and 1.4 ounces. Its dorsal coat is creamy orange, while the underbelly is white or grey in color. Its face bears a distinctive white line of fur extending from its forehead the tip of the nose.  As is typical to lorids, the Calabar potto has a short index finger that helps it to grip tree branches, as well as a grooming claw. It is the only primate known to have an operational third eyelid, however.

Although the nocturnal Calabar potto is arboreal, it resides at lower altitudes than other non-ape primates do. It can be seen as high as 49.2 feet, moving slowly about the trees. During the daytime, it rests in dense foliage. When threatened, it will roll up into a ball, placing its face underneath its armpit with its mouth open. If the threat does not retreat, the potto will latch onto it with its teeth. The diet of the Calabar potto consists mainly of insects like caterpillars, but it has been known to eat fruit. When eating a caterpillar, the potto will wipe it clean of any poisonous spines with one hand.

Territories of male and female Calabar pottos will overlap, although they typically forage alone. Social bonding is increased by scent marking and grooming. Mating occurs at the very end of a female’s estrous cycle, and after a pregnancy of up to 136 days, one young potto is born between the months of January to April.

The Calabar angwantibo appears in literature as well as the potto, its close relative. In Patrick O’Brian‘s  Aubrey-Maturin novels, the character Stephen Maturin acquires a Calabar angwantibo, and it is also briefly focused on in The Overloaded ArkGerald Durrell‘s first book. Although the range of the Calabar potto is small, it has given it a status of “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Image Caption: Arctocebus calabarensis. Credit: Joseph Wolf/Wikipedia