The slow loris (Nycticebus coucang) is a tiny and timid primate known for its nocturnal movements, slow and deliberate movements and huge eyes. It is usually found in the rain forests of Southeast Asia and India. Despite its name, the slow loris is an accomplished climber. Its strong grasping hands and feet allow it to hang from branches by their feet alone (BBC. co. uk, n. pag. ). Slow lorises have short, woolly and dense fur that varies in color from grey to white. They have dark rings around their eyes, as well as a dark stripe running along their backs (BBC. co. uk, n. pag. ).
Slow lorises likewise possess elongated fingers and toes and flattened nails (MSN Encarta, n. pag. ). Compared to slender lorises, they are plumper and shorter-limbed. The average adult slow loris measures between 26 to 38 centimetres and weights between 1. 1 and 1. 2 grams (BBC. co. uk, n. pag. ). Slow lorises are arboreal – they usually live in trees and rarely descend to the ground. As a form of protection against nocturnal predators such as snakes, a gland on their arms secretes a toxin that deters marauders when combined with saliva. Although they generally move slowly, they kill their prey by striking them very quickly.
The slow loris’ diet is composed of lizards, insects, fruit and seeds (MSN Encarta, n. pag. ). Habitat destruction through deforestation is the greatest threat to the slow loris’ survival. Poaching is another risk – they are hunted and sold for about $20 each in shopping malls and animal markets in major cities (Mongbay. com, n. pag. ). Infection is a major cause of death among slow lorises in captivity – their teeth are extracted using pliers prior to sale (Mongbay. com, n. pag. ). Slow lorises are currently listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (MSN Encarta, n. pag. ).