Getting to know a slow loris that looks cute but has a venomous bite

Slow Lorises – If Grameds has seen a film called Zootopia released by Disney, Grameds certainly knows sloths or sloths. Slow lorises in the film are described as animals that move very slowly. Well, just like in the real world, slow lorises are slow-moving animals. In addition, slow lorises are also known as shy animals.

What are slow lorises like? This is the explanation about sloths.

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Acquaintance with Slow Lorises

The slow loris, also known as the shy one, is a slow-moving primate. This one animal has a variety of hair colors, ranging from whitish gray, brown to blackish. On the back of this animal there is a brown line that runs from the back of the body to the forehead, then branches to the ears and eyes.

Slow lorises are primates that are included in the nocturnal primitive primate group, which is a type of animal that is more active at night and sleeps during the day.

If it is included in a primitive primate, it means that this animal has characteristics that are slightly different from most other primates. Some of the other primates have wet noses and a better sense of sight when in the dark. Slow lorises mostly do activities in trees, so slow lorises are also referred to as arboreal animals, besides that, slow lorises also live solitary and solitary.

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This animal has a stocky body shape with a small size, has a very short tail and round head, a sharp and pointed snout and large round eyes. This animal also has thick and fine body hair.

Slow Loris

Although each species has a different color pattern, in general the hair color of these animals is more often a pale gray brown. In addition, slow lorises usually have dark circles around their eyes which are alternated with pale or white stripes that run between the eyes and towards the forehead. At night, the slow loris’ eyes will reflect light like a torch quite clearly.

As arboreal animals, slow lorises also climb a lot and move between branches and tree branches. However, due to their slow movement, slow lorises also move between trees slowly and carefully and almost never jump.

The hands and feet of these animals are almost the same length and long enough, so that the slow loris is able to stretch its body and twist to reach neighboring branches. The hands and feet of the slow loris have adapted in such a way that the slow loris is able to hold on to tree branches for long periods of time without feeling tired.

Although it has a funny face and is known as a slow animal, the slow loris bite is known to have a venomous bite. This is an ability that is rare among mammals, but is quite characteristic of the loricid primate group. The venom in the slow loris bite is obtained when the slow loris licks a type of fluid in the glands and the contents can be activated when mixed with saliva.

The venomous bite can be useful to deter predators and also serves to protect baby slow lorises by brushing the venom on their child’s body hair. The secretions in the glands of the arms contain substances such as allergens produced by cats, and then reinforced by the chemical composition obtained by slow lorises from their food in the wild.

According to records, the natural predators of slow lorises include brontok eagles, orangutans, snakes, sun bears, civets, and several types of cats.

Slow Loris

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Slow lorises communicate through the smells they leave in certain places. Male slow lorises are known to have territory that he will defend tightly. These animals have a slow reproduction, and sometimes they leave their young when they are small on the branches and will be taken care of in turns with other parents. Slow lorises are omnivores, they prey on small animals, tree sap, fruit and various other vegetables.

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Relationships in Slow Lorises

This animal belongs to the Nycticebus genus, which is a type of primate belonging to the Strepsirrhini group which is closely related to the loris from India and Sri Lanka and the photo and angwantibo originating from tropical Africa.

If we look a little further, slow lorises are also related to galagos and lemurs from Madagascar. Branches of the family Lorisidae are believed to have evolved around Africa, where most species of slow lorises are found, and it was only recently that a group of slow lorises migrated to areas of Asia and inherited the loris genus from the currently known slow lorises.

Of the eight species of slow loris that currently exist, six of them can be found in Indonesia, namely on the islands of Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Taxonomy on Sloth

In 1785, a Dutch physician and naturalist named Pieter Boddaert wrote the first scientific description of the slow loris which he named Tardigradus coucang. He made this description based on Thomas Pennant’s 1781 description of a tailless monkey thought to be a Sunda slow loris, then combined with Arnount Vosmaer’s writings on the Bengal slow loris. Therefore, the identity of T coucang was confused before it was finally established with the scientific name of Sunda slow loris.

Slow Loris

Although Vosmaer had written about the Bengal slow loris in 1770, the slow loris was not scientifically described until 1800 by Bernard Germain de Lacepde who gave it the name Lori bengalensis. Then twelve years later, Etienne Geoffroy Saint Hailaire described the Javan slow loris and placed a new genus, Nycticebus. The name comes from the Greek words nyktos which means night and kebos which means monkey, this naming refers to the habit of the slow loris which has nocturnal nature.

Then successively, the slow loris was described as the Bornean slow loris which at that time had the scientific name Lemur menagenesis by Richard Lydekker in 1893 and the pygmy slow loris or Nycticebus pygmaeus by John James Lewis Bonhote in 1907.

However, in 1939, Reignald Innes Pocock made a revision and considered that all slow lorises were one species, yaki N. coucang. This view persisted for approximately 30 years, until in 1971, Coin Groves believed that N pygmaeus was a distinct species of slow loris and that N coucang consisted of four distinct subspecies.

Along with the development of knowledge and the use of genetic analysis as a tool, especially after the 2000s, the status of slow lorises was restored at the species level one by one.

Even in 2012, a study of variations in facial color patterns in N. menagensis found that the taxa consisted of four species, including the sloth loris, the Bornean slow loris and a new species, the Kayan slow loris, apart from the Bornean slow loris itself. In 2022, Nijman and Nekaris gave the genus name Xanthon Nycticebus to the pygmy slow loris.

Slow Loris

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Species, Agihan, and Habitat

Until now, this animal with the Nycticebus genus is recognized as having eight species that still exist today, including the following.

  1. Nycticebus bancanus or slow loris is located around the islands of Bangka and southwest Kalimantan.
  2. Nycticebus bengalensis or bengal slow loris spreads in areas around India to Thailand.
  3. Nycticebus borneanus or better known as the Kalimantan slow loris, is limited or endemic to the island of Borneo from the central to the southwest.
  4. Nycticebus coucang or Sunda slow loris, spreads around the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and the surrounding islands.
  5. Nycticebus Kayan or slow loris, spreads limited to areas of the North Central Kalimantan Island, namely in the north upstream of the Mahakam River and Rajang River, to the south of Mount Kinabalu.
  6. Nycticebus javanicus, also known as the Javan slow loris, is confined to the island of Java, to be precise in the west to the middle.
  7. Nycticebus menagensis or Filipino slow loris, spreads around the northern part of the island of Borneo, including parts of East Kalimantan, to the Sulu Islands in the Philippines.
  8. Nycticebus pygmaeus or pygmy slow loris, spreads in the Indochinese region east of the Mekong S.: Yunnan, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Slow Loris

Sloth animals spread in several areas that have tropical and temperate climates. The loris’ main habitats include secondary and primary rain debt, bamboo clumps and mangrove forests.

Slow lorises like forest cover with a fairly high and dense canopy, although several species of slow lorises are also found in disturbed habitats such as mixed plantations and even cocoa plantations.

Given the life habits of the slow loris, which is nocturnal, it becomes difficult to accurately measure its abundance. In addition, there is not much data available regarding the size of the population and the loris distribution patterns.

In general, the finding density of individual slow lorises in nature is low, a combined analysis of several field studies using the transect survey method in the South and Southeast Asia regions which obtained a finding density range of between 0.74 slow lorises per kilometer for N. coucang to as low as 0.05 individuals per kilometer for N. pygmaeus.

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