slow loris

Nycticebus pygmaeus
Slow loris The venomous primate
Type mammal
Height 20cm
Weight 430g
Diet ominvore
  • Summary

    Their round head, small ears, short sturdy arms and legs and only a stumpy tail make slow loris look more like teddy bears than primates. The name 'loris' is thought to be derived from the Dutch word 'loeres' meaning 'sluggish'; or perhaps from the term used by old Holland seafarers 'loeris' which means 'clown'. When sleeping, the pygmy slow loris curls up into a tight ball but remains clinging to its branch. The second finger is very short and the thumbs will spread very wide allowing an exceptionally large grip, whilst their strong hands and feet enabling them to hold on very tightly to branches.

    The Slow loris has a toxic bite, which is thought to have come from the huge variety of distasteful and sometimes toxic insects and spiders they eat.

  • Dietary

    Slow loris are omnivores and eat mainly insects and treesap. In the wild, they walk slowly but surely along branches, carefully putting one foot in front of the other until they sight a possible meal such as an insect. When food is sighted, the loris grips the branch tightly with its hind feet while holding its body and front legs upright and away from the branch. It then lunges forward with its body and front legs, grasping the prey in the tight grip of the front paws.

    Our slow loris are fed vegetables, crickets, locusts, mealworms and pellets (which help to keep their teeth clean). They are also given arabic gum on branches, which encourages their natural behaviour - using their teeth to gnaw the bark and reach the gum (or treesap in the wild).

  • Habitat

    These primates are found mainly in the tropical, dry forests of Asia when in the wild - including China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Their nocturnal lifestyle allows them to avoid competing with the other primates that share their habitat.

  • Conservation

    The slow loris is classed as Endangered. The Vietnam war very nearly wiped out this species of loris; the forest in which it lives was extensively cut down, burned or defoliated. While military action in its home range has ceased, destruction of forests for agricultural and development purposes continues.

    Please don't share or like videos of slow lorises which are held as pets. It encourages pet trade and endangers the survival of slow lorises in the wild.

    For more information follow this link to a website made by the organisation International Vet Rescue:

    IUCN Red List species link

  • Did you know...

    Our pygmy slow loris are trained to sit on scales so they can be weighed regularly, as the species puts on weight very easily.

    Pygmy slow loris are primates, so they are actually related to gorillas! The pygmy slow loris is the only known venomous primate - probably ingesting the toxins through its diet. By licking its glands, which secret the toxins, the loris' bite becomes venomous.

    Did you know that slow lorises have two tongues? In the picture below you can clearly see the serrated ‘under-tongue’, or ‘sublingua’, which is used like a toothbrush, keeping the slow loris’ front teeth clean!

  • Where to find us at Bristol Zoo

    You can find our pygmy slow loris inside Twilight World, just off the Top Terrace

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