Get to Know Loris Animals That Look Cute but Their Bites Are Venomous

Slow Lorises – If Sinaumed’s has ever seen a film called Zootopia released by Disney, Sinaumed’s is certainly familiar with slow lorises or sloths. The lemurs in the film are described as animals whose movements are very slow. Well, just like in the real world, slow lorises are animals with slow motion. In addition, slow lorises are also known as shy animals.

What are lemurs like? Here is his explanation of sloths.

Acquaintance with Loris Animals

The slow loris, also known as the timid animal, is a slow-moving primate. This one animal has a variety of hair colors, ranging from whitish gray, brown to black. 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 belong to the primitive nocturnal primate group, which is a type of animal that is more active at night and sleeps during the day.

If it is included in primitive primates, then it means that this animal has characteristics that are slightly different from most other primates. Some of the other primates have wet noses and senses of vision that function better in the dark. Slow lorises do more activities in trees, so slow lorises are also known as arboreal animals, apart from that, slow lorises also live solitary and solitary lives.

This animal has a stocky body shape with a small size, has a very short tail and a round head, sharp and tapered muzzle and big round eyes. This animal also has thick and smooth body hair.

Although each species has a different color pattern, in general, the color of this animal’s hair is more often pale gray brown. In addition, slow lorises usually have dark circles around their eyes which are also interspersed with a pale or white strip that runs between the eyes and towards the forehead. At night, the eyes of the slow loris 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, because it has a slow movement, the loris moves between trees slowly and carefully and almost never jumps.

The hands and feet of this animal are almost the same length and long enough, so that the slow loris is able to stretch its body and rotate to reach the neighboring twigs. The hands and feet of the slow loris have adapted in such a way that even the slow loris is able to hold on tightly to a tree branch for a long time without feeling tired.

Despite having a funny face and being known as a slow animal, the bite of the slow loris is known to have a venomous bite. This is an ability that is rare in mammals, but is quite unique in the lorisid primate group. The venom that is present in the bite of the slow loris is obtained when the slow loris licks a type of fluid in the glands and the contents can be activated when mixed with saliva.

This venomous bite can be used to deter predators and also serves to protect baby slow lorises by brushing venom on their child’s body hair. The secretions on the glands of their arms contain a substance similar to an allergen produced by cats, which is also strengthened by the chemical composition that slow lorises get 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 lorises communicate through the scent they leave in certain places. Male slow lorises are known to have territories that he will defend strictly. These animals have a slow reproduction, and sometimes they leave their young when they are small on a branch and will be guarded alternately with other parents. Slow lorises are omnivorous animals, they prey on small animals, tree sap, fruit and various other vegetables.

Kinship in Loris Animals

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

If traced a little further, slow lorises are also related to galagos and lemurs from Madagascar. Branches of the family Lorisidae are believed to have developed around Africa, where most species of slow lorises occur, and it was only recently that a group of lorises migrated to areas in Asia deriving the loris genus of the lorises we now know.

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

Taxonomy on Sloths

In 1785, a Dutch doctor and naturalist named Pieter Boddaert wrote the first scientific description of a slow loris which he named Tardigradus coucang. He made this description based on a description from Thomas Pennant in 1781, regarding a tailless monkey that was thought to be the Sunda slow loris, then combined with the writings of Arnount Vosmaer regarding the Bengal slow loris. Therefore, the identity of T coucang also experienced confusion before finally being assigned the scientific name of the Sunda slow loris.

Although Vosmaer had written about the Bengal slow loris in 1770, it was only scientifically described in 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 surname, Nycticebus. The name comes from the Greek words, namely nyktos which means night and kebos which means monkey, this name refers to the nocturnal habits of slow lorises.

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 revised it and considered that all slow lorises were one species, namely N. coucang. This view persisted for approximately 30 years, until in 1971, Coin Groves believed that N pygmaeus was a different species of slow loris and that N coucang consisted of four different sub-species.

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

In fact, in 2012, a study of variations in facial color patterns in N. menagensis found that taxa consisted of four species, including the Bangka slow loris, the Bornean slow loris and a new species, the Kayan slow loris, apart from the Bornean slow loris. In 2022, Nijman and Nekaris named the genus Xanthon Nycticebus for the pygmy slow loris.

Species, Distribution, and Habitat

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

  1. Nycticebus bancanus or slow lorises are found 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 Bornean slow loris, has a limited distribution or is endemic in the central part of Borneo Island to the southwest.
  4. Nycticebus coucang or Sundanese slow loris, spreads around the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and the surrounding islands.
  5. Nycticebus kayan or slow loris kayan, has a limited distribution in areas of the northern central part of Kalimantan Island, namely to the north of the upper reaches of the Mahakam River and Rajang River, to the south of Mt. Kinabalu.
  6. Nycticebus javanicus or known as the Java slow loris, has a limited distribution in the area of ​​the island of Java, to be precise in the west to the center.
  7. Nycticebus menagensis or the Philippine slow loris, spreads around the northern part of Borneo Island, including parts of East Kalimantan, to the Sulu Islands in the Philippines.
  8. Nycticebus pygmaeus or pygmy slow loris, spreads in the Indochina region east of S. Mekong: Yunnan, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Sloth animals spread in several areas that have tropical and humid climates. The main loris habitat includes secondary and primary rain forests, bamboo groves and mangrove forests.

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

Given the life habits possessed by slow lorises, which are nocturnal, it becomes difficult to measure their abundance accurately. In addition, not much data is available regarding the size of the population and distribution patterns of slow lorises.

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

Loris Animal Protection

In Indonesia itself, slow lorises have been protected animals since 1973 with the Decree of the Minister of Agriculture on February 14 `973 with No. 66/ Kpts/ Um/ 2/ 1973. The protection of slow lorises is then reaffirmed by the existence of a Government Regulation or PP No. 7 of 199 which discusses the Preservation of Plant and Animal Species which includes slow lorises in the annex of protected plant and animal species.

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According to RI Law number 5 of 1990 concerning the Conservation of Living Natural Resources and their Ecosystems article 21 paragraph 2, the trade and maintenance of protected animals including slow lorises is prohibited. People who violate these rules and regulations may be subject to imprisonment for at least five years and a fine of approximately IDR 100 million.

With this regulation, all types of slow lorises in Indonesia are protected animals. Meanwhile, according to the world conservation agency, namely IUCN, the slow loris has been included in the vulnerable category, which means it has a 10 percent chance of becoming extinct within 100 years.

Meanwhile, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES has included slow lorises in Appendix I. Previously, slow lorises were included in Appendix II of CITES, which means that international trade in slow lorises is permitted, including the capture of slow lorises from the wild.

With the inclusion of slow lorises in CITES Appendix I in 2007, international trade in slow lorises has become increasingly stringent. The trade in slow lorises is not permitted if they come directly from nature, however, slow lorises must be from captivity.

In addition, the inclusion of slow lorises in CITES Appendix I will provide maximum protection for slow lorises, so that their sustainability in nature will be more guaranteed.

The proposal that the slow loris be promoted to Appendix I was brought by Cambodia at the CITES meeting which took place from 3 to 5 June 2007 in The Hague, Netherlands which was attended by more than 150 countries, including Indonesia. Indonesia has also ratified the CITES convention since 1978.

The proposal from Cambodia to raise an appendix for slow lorises then received support from other countries, for example India, Indonesia, the European Union, Laos, Japan, Thailand and the USA.

ProFauna Indonesia also attended the CITES meeting and supported Cambodia’s proposal. Apart from being pro-fauna, other organizations that support the increase in appendix I for slow lorises include the Species Survival Network or SSN and the Asian Conservation Alliance Task Force.

Even though they have been listed as protected animals, according to a survey conducted by ProFauna from 2000 to 2006, it shows that slow lorises traded freely at the bird market are natural caught lorises and not captive lorises.

Not only that, to show the impression that slow lorises are cute, docile and don’t bite, traders pull out the teeth of slow lorises using pliers or hooks commonly used by electricians.

In the process of extracting the teeth, the slow loris’ teeth are often broken or crushed, causing wounds to the loris’ mouth. Traders who cut the teeth of the slow loris must also hold the leg with the loris’ head down. Then the lemurs continued to be twirled with the excuse of stopping the bleeding that was experienced as a result of tooth extraction.

Because it is done carelessly, there are many cases of slow lorises getting infected after their teeth are removed and causing the slow loris’ death. The action of trading, catching and removing the teeth of the slow loris, of course, violates the results of the CITES trial which raised the status of the slow loris in Appendix I.

That is an introduction to slow lorises, starting from the habitat where they live, species, taxonomy to regulations regarding the protection of slow lorises. As one of the animals that has started to become extinct, it is better for Sinaumed’s to support and protect the existence of slow lorises. One of the ways is not to normalize poaching, trade and maintenance of slow lorises with the excuse of saving slow lorises.

If Sinaumed’s is interested in knowing more about slow lorises and other animals, Sinaumed’s can dig deeper by reading related books. As #FriendsWithoutLimits, sinaumedia always provides quality books so you have #MoreWithReading information.

Author: Khansa