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Sunda Slow Loris

Leena Palande
A growing demand in the exotic pet trade has made the Sunda slow loris a vulnerable animal species. The information on Sunda slow loris presented in this article, throws light on the reasons behind this situation. Scroll down to know some shocking facts about this little animal, who actually loves to live in the evergreen forests.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) labels an animal species as 'vulnerable', if the species is likely to have become 'endangered', unless efforts are made to improve the circumstances that have threatened the survival and reproduction of the animal.
Sunda slow loris is one such species which is found in Indonesia, western Malaysia, southern Thailand and Singapore. It belongs to the group 'slow lorises', and is also known as a greater slow loris.

Facts About Sunda Slow Loris

  • The scientific name of Sunda slow loris is Nycticebus coucang. Scientifically, it is described as a 'strepsirrhine primate'. A wet nose and twisted or curly nostrils are the characteristic features of strepsirrhines.
  • These slow lorises are nocturnal (active during night) and arboreal (inhabiting or frequenting trees) animal. It is found on Sunda Islands, a group of islands in the western part of Malaysia.
  • This slow loris is known as kukang in Indonesia. Indonesians also call it 'malu-malu' (means shy) or 'bukang' or 'kalamasan'. In Thailand, it is known as 'ling lom', meaning 'wind monkey'.
  • A slow loris belonging to this species when measured from head to tail, can be about 27 - 38 cm. It usually weighs between 599 to 685 g (21.1 and 24.2 oz). Now, you can imagine how small it is. This primate is found in evergreen forests, in the dense canopies of rainforests.
  • The color of the primate varies from pale gray-brown to reddish-brown. They have a dark brown stripe originating from the top of the head and extending to the middle back or even to the base of the tail. A thick white stripe can be seen between the eyes. The dark ring around each eye gives them an innocent look.
  • Nycticebus coucang is a small monkey like animal. It is the only poisonous monkey in the world. It has sharp teeth. Very few mammals in this world are poisonous, and the Sunda slow loris is one of them. This unusual quality has indirectly led to its destruction.
  • Round head, a very short muzzle, small ears covered by thick fur, a flat face, big prominent eyes, and a very short tail (no more than 3 cm), make the Sunda slow loris a cute, cuddly pet. Those who catch and sell a slow loris as a pet, often cut or pull out their teeth to prevent them from biting their owners. 
This affects their food intake seriously and increases the chances of infection, often leading to death.
  • A slow loris without teeth cannot be introduced into the wild. If such a loris is found, it is kept in a zoo. Sometimes, they are hunted and traded for traditional medicines. 
You might be shocked to know that in Cambodia, loris wine, which is used to reduce pain in childbirth, is made by mixing rice wine and loris meat. To make one bottle of wine, three bodies of lorises are required.
  • This primate exhibits an extremely low metabolic rate compared to other mammals of its size. The lorises select their mates and remain loyal to them for the rest of their lives. They follow a monogamous mating system. Their babies live with them.
  • Members of the species prefer to live alone, but they are sometimes found with their families. They lick gum, sap, floral nectar, and also eat fruits and arthropods (small insects, centipedes and millipedes, crabs, and spiders). They feed on lizards, small birds and mammals, bird eggs and shoots.
  • When they sleep on the branches, rolled up in a ball (head between their thighs), during daytime, it is very difficult to detect them. Strong grasping hands and feet facilitate their quick movement on trees. They have a dense coat of soft, short fur, and they look very pretty when they stare at you.
  • Females of this species usually give birth to a single offspring (rarely twins). The gestation period is of about 192 days. Babies live with their family, but as they grow and become sexually mature (around 16 and 27 month), they disperse. In the wild, they enjoy a lifespan of about 20 years.
  • If attacked, the slow lorises make a buzzing hiss sound. Although they walk slowly and leisurely; you would be stunned to watch them moving quickly, catching their preys. They need to hold a tree branch with at least three limbs.
Governments should take strict action against selling or keeping exotic pets like Sunda slow lorises, gibbons, salamanders, snakes or tarantulas. I hope you found the above facts helpful, and you would participate in programs which are aimed to create awareness about protection of endangered animals.