LORISES AND POTTOS – Lorisidae

LORISES AND POTTOS

LORISES AND POTTOS FACTS

Lorises and pottos have short heads covered with hair. Snouts, or nose areas, are small. Their C-shaped ears are close to the scalp, and they have large, round, dark eyes. Arms and legs are long and about equal length. All ten fingers and ten toes have a claw, but the claw is longest on the second toe. This is called a grooming claw, and lorises and pottos use it to comb through and clean their fur. The index finger is quite small compared to the rest of the fingers, and their thumbs and big toes are located far from the other four fingers and toes. When these animals wrap their hands or feet around a tree branch, their grasping hold is very strong, allowing them to hold onto a branch for a long time.

Lorises and pottos are very small animals. The tiniest loris is the gray slender loris. It is only 8.5 inches (21.5 centimeters) long from head to the start of its tail. It weighs only 9 ounces (255 grams). The potto is the largest member of the Lorisidae.

Tail length varies in the lorises and the pottos. Some, such as the slender loris, have no tail. Others may have a tail length of up to 2.5 inches (6.5 cm). Their color varies; pottos and lorises can be cream colored, pale brown, grayish brown, reddish brown, orange-brown, or dark brown. Some have mixed fur colors. Some lorises have contrasting markings or striped areas. The color contrast may be especially visible when it forms a ringed area around the large eyes, as it does in the pygmy slow loris.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

The slow lorises live throughout tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia. The slender lorises are found in the tropical forests of India and Sri Lanka. Pottos occur only in the tropical and subtropical forests of West and Central Africa.

LORISES AND POTTOS HABITAT

Lorises and pottos live only in thickly forested areas. Most often, they live in the trees of tropical rainforests, forests where the trees are evergreen and there is a lot of rain.

LORISES AND POTTOS DIET

Lorises are omnivores, eating both plants and very small animals. They are nocturnal, feeding at night. They locate food with their keen sense of smell. Diet includes insects, lizards, fruits, leaves, birds’ eggs, and gum, the liquid from plants. Each species, or type, of Lorisidae, may have a food preference. When feeding, they hang by their feet from a branch.

BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION

Lorisids (species in the family Lorisidae) are usually solitary animals, each having a specific range for its food searches. However, the home range (place where an animal feeds and lives) of males may overlap that of females. During the day, lorisids may sleep on a tree branch, in a hollow tree trunk, or in the fork of a tree. They typically sleep while curled up, with head and arms tucked between their thighs. While they see well in daylight and dark, they search for food at night. The animals move very slowly and carefully. Sometimes they don’t even disturb tree leaves as they pass through. This careful behavior helps them to avoid predators, animals that hunt them for food. While moving through tree branches, they tend to drag their bottoms to mark their trail with urine. If a lorisid hears even the slightest sound that might mean a predator is nearby, it just stops and hangs on to a branch. With strong arms and legs, it can stay that way for hours, until it feels it can safely move again.

Lorisids may have more than one mate. Pregnancy is from about four to six months, depending on the species. Lorisids usually have just one baby at a time. Babies weigh from 1 to 2 ounces (28.4 to 56.7 grams). After a baby is born, it hangs on to the front fur of its mother’s body for a few weeks. Sometimes, as she searches for food at night, the mother may place her infant on a small branch. The infant holds onto the branch until the mother returns. At night, while the mother sleeps, the baby holds onto her belly. As the infant grows, it begins to travel on its mother’s back. Then it follows her. As the mother looks for food, she also is teaching her young how to look for, and recognize, suitable food. Young lorisids stay with their mother until they are about a year old, then go off on their own.

LORISES, POTTOS, AND PEOPLE

Large zoos may have special exhibits of lorisids and pottos. In their native homes, in some areas, they are trapped and kept as pets. Occasionally the larger species are used as food.

CONSERVATION STATUS

While no Lorisidae are considered Endangered, two are Vulnerable (facing a high risk of extinction, or dying out, in the wild) due to habitat loss. Two are Near Threatened (not currently threatened with extinction), and four species are fairly common.