The Slow Loris: A Charming Mammal with a Toxic Bite

If you’ve had any exposure to slow lorises, it’s probably because you’ve come across viral videos featuring these fuzzy cuties. And if all you know about these animals is that they’re cuddly and cute, then you’re missing one shocking fact. The slow loris is one of the world’s few poisonous mammals!

An Overview of Slow Loris

Ten species of slow loris can be found in Southeast Asia. Lemurs and lorises are both classified in the identical group of primates called prosimians, meaning monkeys.

Lorises and lemurs share some novel characteristics. Their paws are not completely developed like those of apes and monkeys. They also own what’s described as a tooth comb: six teeth on in the lower jaw that spread out. And like the lemur, the loris has two tongues.

Lorises have an astonishing grip, which they require since they cannot jump or leap, even over small obstacles.

The Deadly Instinct

The slow loris is one of the few poisonous mammals in nature. Its lethal bite is delivered uniquely, by licking a gland on the arm that secretes an oil that blends with their saliva.

Amazingly, the toxic protein that’s created by the mixture is similar to the one that makes people allergic to cats, and its outcome is identical to a life-threatening allergic response. One astounding case was related to an Australian herpetologist who had no idea at the time that the loris was poisonous. He thought it was kind of amusing to have been attacked by this adorable tiny mammal — that is, until he began to swell up and his legs started to become numb.

He continuously snapped photos every fifteen minutes till he reached the hospital. When he arrived, his lips were forty times their average size and his tongue was so puffed that he couldn’t eat or drink.

Loris poison didn’t evolve to attack humans. Female lorises will apply it on their hands and cover their babies with it. It appears to act as a predator deterrent. This is necessary because unlike most primates, lorises leave their newborns behind while they hunt for food.

Think Not Twice, But Many Times Before Making Them Your Pets

Even if you’re still mesmerized by lorises and think that they’d make cute pets, there are several reasons why that is a bad idea. Not only is it illegal, but lorises do not do well in captivity. Even zoos have trouble keeping them happy and healthy.

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