Natuna Island’s Slow Loris

Sunda slow loris, refers to the Sunda Islands, is a strepsirrhine primate. Yeah, that’s right, strepsirrhine. The word ‘Loris’ is derived from the old Dutch ‘Loeris’ which means clown!

It is commonly known as malu-malu, meaning “shy” in Indonesian. I see you, little loris! It is sometimes called kuskus, because local people do not distinguish between the slow loris and cuscus, a group of Australasian possums. They say, “Possum, loris, who cares?” In Thailand, it is called ling lom, which translates as “wind monkey”. Wind monkey? Really?

When Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire defined the genus Nycticebus, he made the Sunda slow loris the type species. But, later, British zoologist Oldfield Thomas, said the type specimen should be the Bengal slow loris, damn it. Further confusion resulted when Boddaert’s Tardigradus coucang was routinely mistaken for Carl Linnaeus’ Lemur tardigradus. An easy mistake in poor light. The fact was that Lemur tardigradus was actually a slender loris. Mammalogist Witmer Stone finally cleared things up by getting the slender loris off its strict diet.

The Sunda slow loris has dark rings around its large eyes and a white nose with a whitish strip that extends to the forehead. The dark eye rings may be from looking out for predators all night.

One major distinguishing feature between all loris species is locomotion: the Sunda slow loris moves slowly through trees using all four limbs, quadrupedally, as it were, typically, with three limbs holding on to a branch. You can’t be too careful in the trees, you know. They have a special network of capillaries in their hands and feet which helps them cling to branches for hours, without their digits going numb. Pretty cool, huh?

They sometimes feed on molluscs, like the giant snail which moves even slower than the slow loris. During estrus, females make whistle calls when in visual contact with a male. They will sometimes also call out, “Hey, Big Boy, over here.”

The Natuna Island slow loris is an arboreal and nocturnal primate, resting by day in the forks of trees. They sleep in a ball in the branches but are known to spoon with others at night.

We now leave the slow loris as the sun sets off Big Natuna Island.

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