Known as: Bengal Slow Loris, Bengal loris, northern slow loris
Estimated numbers left in wild: Perhaps 2,000 to 16,000 – exact number are unknown.
Like all loris species, the Bengal slow loris shows that nature does sometimes have a sense of humour. The name loris originates in the Dutch word for clown. Possessing a round, slightly startled looking, flat face, and wet nose, the Bengal slow loris is between 27 and 36 centimetres in length and weighs from 1 to 2 kilograms. The fur of the slow loris is thick and woolly, with lighter colouration on the face, front limbs, and underside, and dull, medium brown fur elsewhere. The hands and feet of the slow loris are well suited to its arboreal lifestyle, permitting the animal to grasp vines and branches securely.
The Bengal slow loris does, indeed, move very slowly. It is also very cautious as it goes through the trees in search of food, always keeping three of its ‘hands’ in contact with the substrate at all times. The Bengal slow loris eats nectar, bird’s eggs, fruit, and insects, but is especially fond of the sap and gum that oozes from trees, often as a result of the loris biting through the bark to stimulate sap flow. The tooth-comb found in the lower jaw is used both for grooming and to scrape gum off of trees. The Bengal slow loris is an important pollinator in its rainforest home.
There are few mammals that produce toxins (the short-tailed shrew is one), but the Bengal slow loris, like other slow lorises, has a gland on the inside of its arm that does produce a toxin that it rubs on its face, neck, and tooth-comb. The substance provides information about the animal to other of its species and also can produce painful wounds in those the loris bites. The poison is also used to delineate home territories.
During the day, the Bengal slow loris curls up into a ball and sleeps in the trees, usually in cavities in trees or dense cover. A single young (twins are very rare) is produced every year or year and a half, with the baby riding on its mother’s back. While little is known about the habits of the slow loris, it seems likely that small family groups, consisting of the mother and several offspring form the basis of their social life.
Lorises will sometimes sleep in small adult groups as well. The Bengal slow loris often establishes dozens of sleeping sites in its territory. Cryptic colouration, sleeping during the day, and slow movement all help the Bengal slow loris to avoid predators.
Location: The Bengal slow loris is found in the north-east corner of India, and also in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
Threats: Habitat destruction due to farming, logging, and mining are the greatest threats to the Bengal slow loris, although the animal is still hunted for food by local populations. Superstition decrees that certain parts of the loris are valuable as medicine, so they are still shot for body parts for traditional formulations. Bengal slow lorises are also captured live for the pet trade. Their most serious natural predators are raptors and pythons.
Conservation efforts: The Bengal slow loris has been placed in the highest protective category in CITES, whereby all trade in the animals is forbidden. Protection has been given in most countries where the loris is found and the establishment of national parks has helped to preserve not only the animals, but the environment they require.
Bengal Slow Loris Videos
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