Greater slow loris (Nycticebus coucang)

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Greater slow loris climbing through branches
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Greater slow loris fact file

Greater slow loris description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderPrimates
FamilyLorisidae
GenusNycticebus (1)

The greater slow loris (Nycticebus coucang) is a nocturnal and strictly arboreal primate. This species has a rounded head with a short snout and a stocky body. Colouration varies throughout the greater slow loris’ range, but the thick and woolly coat tends to be a light brown colour with a broad, dark brown stripe running along the midline of the back (3) (5) (6). The greater slow loris has dark brown patches around its large, circular eyes, which are separated by a white streak of fur ending at the nose (6).

Unlike many other primates, all species of loris only have a vestigial tail and instead use incredibly mobile wrist and ankle joints to manoeuvre along branches (3) (6). Opposable thumbs and an extensive network of narrow blood vessels in its limbs enable an effortless and powerful grasp, allowing the greater slow loris to tightly grip branches for hours at a time (3) (4).

Also known as
slow loris, Sunda slow loris.
Synonyms
Nycticebus brachycephalus, Nycticebus buku, Nycticebus coucang coucang, Nycticebus hilleri, Nycticebus insularis, Nycticebus malaiana, Nycticebus natunae, Nycticebus sumatrensis, Nycticebus tardigradus.
French
Loris Lent.
Spanish
Loris Lento.
Size
Adult length: 27 - 38 cm (3)
Average male weight: 680 g (4)
Average female weight: 625 g (4)
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Greater slow loris biology

A nocturnal species, the greater slow loris hides high up in trees to sleep during the day, often on branches or palm fronds (5). It sleeps tightly curled in a ball while gripping nearby foliage for support (6).

The greater slow loris is a slow-moving species, and has a low metabolic rate compared to other mammals of its size (5).  It is unable to leap, and instead walks very slowly on all fours, keeping three feet in contact with the branches at all time (3) (5). While hunting, the greater slow loris may hang upside down from branches, leaving both hands free to catch flying insects, preferring insects with a pungent taste and smell (4) (6). This species also feeds on fruit, small animals, birds eggs, and gum from trees (4).  

Gestation in the greater slow loris lasts for 191 days, after which a single young is born (3) (4). Birth takes place at night, and the newborn immediately climbs up to the deep, concealing fur of the female’s belly, and clings on with its hands and feet (6). The infant is only removed from this protected position while the female forages (3) (4).

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Greater slow loris range

The greater slow loris is found in Southeast Asia (3). Its range extends from the northern tip of Thailand, throughout the Malaysian peninsular to Indonesia and Singapore and some of the neighbouring islands (1).

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Greater slow loris habitat

This arboreal primate occurs mainly in primary and secondary tropical lowland forests, up to elevations of 1,300 metres (1) (3). The greater slow loris prefers forest edges, as insect prey and support branches are more abundant (3).

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Greater slow loris status

The greater slow loris is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (2).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Greater slow loris threats

The greater slow loris is threatened by the unsustainable and poorly regulated pet and traditional medicine trades (7). Local people, especially in Cambodia, believe the slow loris to cure a number of diseases, and in Indonesia, this species is more commonly traded as a live pet (7). Its toxic bite means that teeth are usually removed, often leading to infection, dental abscesses and death as it is unable to eat its preferred diet (8). It is easily targeted by poachers, as this species clings tightly to the branches rather than escaping, is stunned by bright daylight, and is very slow moving  (7) (8).

Like all Asian species of loris, habitat loss due to deforestation has also contributed to a large reduction in numbers of the greater slow loris (7).

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Greater slow loris conservation

The greater slow loris is found in several protected areas within its range and is on the Cambodian and Indonesian protected species lists. It is also protected by law in Malaysia and Thailand, although protection is rarely enforced and the penalties to deter hunters and traders are too low to be effective (1) (7).

All species of slow loris are listed on Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which protects the greater slow loris from international commercial trade (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on primate conservation see:

To learn more about loris protection and conservation see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Arboreal
An animal which lives or spends a large amount of time in trees.
Gestation
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Metabolic rate
The speed at which an animal uses energy.
Nocturnal
Active at night.
Vestigial
Describing a structure or organ that has diminished in size, through evolution, to the point where it no longer functions. Only traces may remain.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. CITES (November, 2011)
    http://www.cites.org/
  3. Rowe, N. (1999) The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates. Pogonias Press, Rhode Island.
  4. Hutchins, M., Kleiman, D.G., Geist, V. and McDade, M.C. (2004) Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia. Volumes 12-16: Mammals. Gale Group, Michigan.
  5. Primate Info Net – Slow loris (November, 2011)
    http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/slow_loris/taxon
  6. Osman Hill, W.C. (1953) Primates, Comparitive Anatomy and Taxonomy. The Edinburgh Press, Edinburgh.
  7. Nekaris, K.A.I., Shepherd, C.R, Starr, C.R.and Nijman,V.(2010) Exploring cultural drivers for wildlife trade via an ethnoprimatological approach: A case study of slender and slow lorises (Loris and Nycticebus) in south and southeast Asia. American Journal of Primatology,72: 877-866.
  8. Mittermeier, R.A. et al. (2009) Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates 2008-2010. IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, International Primatological Society, and Conservation International, Arlington, VA. Available at:
    http://data.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/2009-067.pdf
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Image credit

Greater slow loris climbing through branches  
Greater slow loris climbing through branches

© Anup Shah / naturepl.com

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