Arctocebus calabarensisCalabar angwantibo

Geographic Range

Golden pottos, Arctocebus calabarensis, are endemic in western equatorial Africa, and are found in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, and Zaire. (Wilson and Reeder, 1993)


Arctocebus calabarensis can be found in primary and secondary forests, where it prefers tree fall zones. This species also resides within forestry and agricultural plantations. Arctocebus calabarensis is adapted to undergrowth, foraging within the lower canopy of the forest. It will spend most of its time within 5 m of the ground. (Kingdon, 1997)

Physical Description

The body mass of A. calabarensis can range from 266 to 465 grams. The head-body length ranges from 229 to 305 mm. This species has a reduced, nub-like tail that measures from 4 to 10 cm, along with a reduced index finger. The second digit on each toe is used as a grooming claw.

Pelage coloration ranges from orange to yellow to brown on the dorsal side, with white or buff pelage on the ventral side. Facial markings include a white stripe above the nose. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    266 to 465 g
    9.37 to 16.39 oz
  • Range length
    229 to 305 mm
    9.02 to 12.01 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    0.731 W


Males mate polygynously, copulating with the females whose home ranges overlap their territories. A female signals to a male that she is ready to mate by suspending herself upside down from a branch. Both male and female suspend themselves upside-down from a branch during copulation. (Klopfer and Gubernick, 1981)

Females have an estrous cycle of 36 to 45 days. Gestation lasts between 131 and 136 days. They are capable of breeding more than one time per year, although details on interbirth intervals are not available.

The breeding season typically begins in the middle of the dry season and lasts until the start of the wet season. Because of this, golden pottos can breed more than once per year. Golden pottos copulate only at the end of the estrous cycle, when the female is about to ovulate. The female signals to the male that she is ready to mate by suspending herself upside down from a branch. Both male and female suspend themselves upside-down from a branch during copulation.

Females give birth to a single offspring. The young potto clings to the belly of the mother for about 4 months. Young are weaned between three and four months of age, at which time they begin to ride on their mother's back. Young leave the mother's home range around six months of age. They reach sexual maturity around 18 months. (Klopfer and Gubernick, 1981; Nowak, 1999)

  • Breeding interval
    These animals can breed more than one time per year.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding begins in the middle of the dry season and ends at the beginning of the wet season.
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    131 to 136 days
  • Average weaning age
    3-4 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    18 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    279 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    18 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    270 days

Males are not known to provide parental care in this species. At birth, the young are able to cling to the mother's fur, and have their eyes open. They are not able to climb or walk well on their own. The female cares for the young, carrying the infant first on her belly and later on her back. Females nurse their offspring for 3 to 4 months, and forage with them in the underbrush for another 2 months. At about 6 months of age, the young disperse.

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female
  • extended period of juvenile learning


In the wild, golden pottos can be expected to live anywhere from 12 to 15 years with an average life expectance of 13 years. When kept in captivity the lifespan of A. calabarensis can extend from 18 to 20 years. (Tomasello, 1997)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    15 (high) years
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    20 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    12 to 15 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    13 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    18 to 20 years


Males have home ranges which overlap the home ranges of 2 to 3 females. Pottos are solitary animals who forage and sleep alone, although throughout the year, a male makes contact with females resident in his home range.

This species moves slowly and is a quadrupedal climber. While climbing, three of a golden potto’s limbs are always grasping for support while swinging from branch to branch. Golden pottos are nocturnal and arboreal, sleeping within thick foliage cover. (Nowak, 1999) (Nowak, 1999)

Communication and Perception

Communication in this species has not been well described. Vocalizations are recorded. In addition, the visual signal of a female positioning herself for copulation is important in breeding. Presumably, as in other prosimians, there is scent marking of territories. Tactile communication is important between mother and offspring, as well as between mates. (Nowak, 1999)

Food Habits

Golden pottos are primarily insectivorous, eating mainly insects that are rejected by other insectivores. Caterpillars are among the most common insects consumed by A. calabarensis. Other insects consumed include beetles, ants, moths and crickets. Before eating a caterpillar, golden pottos will rub the caterpillar in their hands to remove any hair the caterpillar may have. This prevents irritation from defensive hairs on the caterpillars. Golden pottos will also eat fruit and gums.

This species tends to forage alone within the lower canopy or on the ground within the undergrowth. Although golden pottos generally move slowly, they have been observed quickly rearing on their back legs in order to snatch moths from the air. (Charles-Donimique, 1977; Nowak, 1999)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit
  • sap or other plant fluids


Details on predation of these pottos are not available, although they presumably fall victim to small carnivores, and the standard nocturnal predators of equatorial Africa. Arctocebus calabarensis is known to roll up into a ball when threatened, keeping the face under the armpit. If attacked, golden pottos will bite the predator on the snout, not letting go. Infants cling to the mother if she appears alarmed. Newborns are born with eyes open and can cling to their mothers' fur or to tree branches. In order to avoid birds of prey, these primates rarely climb higher than 15 m. (Charles-Donimique, 1977) (Charles-Donimique, 1977)

Ecosystem Roles

Golden pottos help to disperse seeds of the fruit they have eaten by defecation (Nowak, 1999). (Nowak, 1999)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Golden pottos are hunted for their meat by humans (Kingdon, 1997). (Kingdon, 1997)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

This species has not been reported to have adverse effects on humans.

Conservation Status

Arctocebus calabarensis is a CITES Appendix II species, which means there are restrictions and guidelines pertaining to the trade and exploitation of this species. This species also faces habitat destruction as the rainforests are cut down for timber and to open up farmland. Although these pottos are adapted to secondary vegetation, they are unable to disperse across unforested areas. (Kingdon,1997) (Kingdon, 1997)


Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Taryn Olson (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


having more than one female as a mate at one time


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Charles-Donimique, P. 1977. Ecology and Feeding Behaviour of five sympatric Lorisids in Gabon. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. San Diego and London: Academic Press.

Klopfer, P., D. Gubernick. 1981. Parental Care in Mammals. New York: Plenum Press.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walkers Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Tomasello, M. 1997. Primate Cognition. New York: Oxford University.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 1993. Mammal Species of the World: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.