Saturday, April 14, 2012

The World’s Only Venomous Primate

The little primate known as the slow loris, or ‘little fireface’ in parts of Java, was, until recently, a fairly obscure animal known primarily to researchers. It is, without doubt, one of the cutest little creatures you will ever see, and many people are adopting them as pets. As it turns out, not only is this little animal in serious danger, but it can be dangerous to humans as well.

The little lorises suddenly became famous when a video posted on YouTube showing one of the little animals being tickled suddenly went viral. Many viewers commented on how cute they were, with their huge eyes and gentle looking faces, and many expressed a desire to adopt one. But there are a few things potential owners should know about the animals and the way they are treated.

The trade in slow lorises is actually illegal. They are relatively slow-moving and seem to be very docile. But when aroused, they secrete venom from a patch on their elbow, mixing it with their saliva. If they bite, the mixture is injected into the wound, causing an allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. Traders know this, and frequently yank the animals’ teeth out using nail clippers, pliers, or wire cutters.

The slow loris is a shy and secretive animal found in a number of countries surrounding Indonesia. They have a few notable peculiarities, such as extra vertebrae and two tongues.

One researcher, Anna Nekaris, is spearheading an effort to help these amazing little animals. You can read her story here

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