Kayan Loris, New Species of Primate with Toxic Bite


U.S. biologists have discovered a new species of slow loris in the jungles of Borneo.

Slow lorises are a group of primates belonging to the genus Nycticebus, closely related to lemurs. These creatures can be found across South East Asia – from Bangladesh and China’s Yunnan province to the island of Borneo. They are omnivores, eating insects, small birds, reptiles, eggs, fruits, nectar and other vegetation. 

They are recognized by their unique fur coloration on the body and face, yet while traits such as fur patterns are often used to distinguish between species; nocturnal species are cryptic in coloration and have less obvious external differences.

Slow lorises are rare amongst primates for having a toxic bite, and are rated as Vulnerable / Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

“Technological advances have improved our knowledge about the diversity of several nocturnal mammals,” said Ms Rachel Munds of the University of Missouri Columbia, lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Primatology.

“Historically many species went unrecognized as they were falsely lumped together as one species. While the number of recognized primate species has doubled in the past 25 years some nocturnal species remain hidden to science.”

The team focused on the distinctive colorings of Borneo’s slow loris, whose faces have an appearance of a mask, with the eyes being covered by distinct patches and their heads having varying shapes of caps on the top.

Written By: Natali Anderson
continue to source article at sci-news.com


  1. I had two lorises as pets when I was a kid in India. I realise now that they were taken out of the wild but this was nearly 50 years ago.

    They would have been local to where I lived as they were commonly on sale in the local market. I inherited the one from a neighbour who returned to america. Theirs was male and very grouchy and it often bit me. Mine was female and very friendly, I used to take her everywhere with me and she used to sit in my pocket with her head popping out the top.

    I used to feed them on live grasshoppers which I had to catch when I got home from school. I used to take her down to some long grass opposite where I lived and crawl around with her listening for the chirrup of the grasshoppers and I became an expert at catching them. I would then hand them to her and she would take them off me and bite their heads off.

    Oh the fun of childhood.

    I presume she would have eaten prey a lot slower in the wild as I can’t see her having been quick enough to catch a grasshopper.

    I once took her to the vet as she was poorly, and being India he had a big “what to do chart” on his wall which included elephants. But no lorrises. He had never seen one. He asked me what I fed her on and his only advice was not to feed her on any more “Hop Grasses”. He wasn’t much help.

    She once got lost and I was heartbroken and the whole college campus where I lived were out searching for her for hours.

    I was crying on my bamboo framed bed when I heard a rustle underneath. I looked under the bed and there she was in the dark, her eyes glowing looking back at me, hanging from the bamboo struts. She had found her own forest.

  2. This link:http://jkenny.hubpages.com/hub
    in one on the comments in the link above gives much  more information on this primate. It’s interesting that there is a gland on the elbow which the Loris licks which mixes the toxin with its saliva and makes the bite venomous…very cool.

    Sorry if this is a double post. Either my first comment got eaten or there is now a delay in posting.

  3. My mother was bitten by our cat and you could actually see her arm swell as if inflated by a bicycle pump. The hospital is directly across the street. As soon as she arrives, within a minute, they rushed her passed everyone and had her in emerg right away. You’d have thought she’d been bitten by a snake. Toxic bites are everywhere.

  4. Yes, interesting how it has to “prime” itself before inflicting self defense wound.

    first comment got eaten

    Did you accidentally swallow it whole? 😉

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