Health / South East Asia

CUTE, EXPENSIVE AND DEADLY

slow lorisThis is a Slow Loris in captivity, whose natural habitat is in the jungle of Southeast Asia. It’s characteristic facial expression makes it an attractive pet for those with the considerable resources needed to have one. Apparently they are not easy to catch — hence the cost — because they have a toxic bite, a trait rare among mammals and unique to lorisid primates. The toxin is obtained by licking a gland on their arm, and the secretion is activated by mixing with saliva. Their toxic bite is a deterrent to predators, and the toxin is also applied to the fur during grooming as a form of protection for their infants. Several incidents have been reported about severe injury and even death of ‘owners’ in Japan.

When caught they are kept in cages in quantities. In captivity they die in large numbers.

Another problem is that Slow lorises reproduce slowly, and the infants are initially parked on branches or carried by either parent. They are omnivores, eating small animals, fruit, tree gum, and other vegetation.

Each of the slow loris species that had been identified prior to 2012 is listed as either “Vulnerable” or “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Newly identified species are not yet on the list, but all slow lorises are threatened by the wildlife trade and habitat loss, the unsustainable demand from the exotic pet trade and from traditional medicine has been the greatest cause for their decline.

Main sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_loris; http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/record-seizure-slow-lorises-indonesia-smugglers-illegal-522626http:// primatology.net/2010/10/19/are-slow-lorises-really-venomous/

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