Bosman's potto, "softly-softly"

Perodicticus potto
Population size
Life Span
26 yrs
600-1,600 g
30-39 cm

Pottos are slow-moving primates. They are also known as Bosman's potto and in some English-speaking parts of Africa, they are called "softly-softly". These animals have long, slender bodies, large eyes and small, round ears. They have woolly fur which is grey-brown in color. Photos have strong limbs with opposable thumbs with which they grasp branches firmly; the second fingers on their limbs are short. These animals have a moist nose, toothcomb, and a toilet claw on the second toe of the hind legs. The neck has 4-6 low growths that cover their elongated vertebrae which have sharp points and nearly pierce the skin; these are used as defensive weapons. Both males and females have large scent glands under the, which they use to mark their territories and to reinforce pair bonds. Pottos have a distinct odor that some observers have described as a smell of curry.



Pottos are found in Africa, from Nigeria , Guinea to Kenya and Uganda into the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They live in the canopy of rain forests.

Potto habitat map



Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Pottos are nocturnal and arboreal creatures that sleep during the day in the leaves and almost never descending from the trees. These animals move slowly and carefully, always gripping a branch with at least two limbs. They are also quiet and avoid predators using cryptic movement. Their most common call is a high-pitched "tsic", which is usually used between mother and offspring. Pottos are territorial animals. They have large territories which the animals mark with urine and glandular secretions. They vehemently guard their territory from same-sex intruders. Each male's territory generally overlaps with two or more females. Females may donate part of their territories to their daughters, but sons leave their mother's territory upon maturity. If threatened, pottos hide their face and neck-butt their opponent, using their unusual vertebrae. These animals can also deliver a powerful bite. Their saliva contains compounds that cause the wound to become inflamed.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Pottos are herbivorous (frugivorous) animals and feed mainly on fruits. They also eat tree gums and insects. Pottos have also occasionally been known to catch bats and small birds. The insects they may eat tend to have a strong smell and are generally not eaten by other animals.

Mating Habits

193-205 days
1 infant
6 months

Little is known about the mating system of pottos. It is suggested, however, that these animals may be polygynous where one males mates with more than one female or polygynandrous (promiscuous) where both males and females have multiple partners. During the mating season pottos perform courtship rituals which include mutual grooming with claws and teeth, licking and scent-marking each other. These rituals are frequently performed while they hang upside down from a branch. Breeding can take place year-round and varies regionally. After a gestation period of about 193-205 days, the female gives birth, typically to a single young, occasionally twins. The infant weighs 30-52 g at birth. The young first clings to the belly of the mother, but later she carries them on her back. She can also hide her young in the leaves while searching for food. After about 6 months, the infant is weaned and becomes fully mature after about 18 months.


Population threats

Main threats to pottos include deforestation of their habitat, human hunting, and predation. These animals suffer from deforestation and human developement more severely than other arboreal primates because forests are usually cleared during the day while pottos are sleeping. Due to their slow moving and their habit to freeze when threatened, these animals are easily get burned or cut down with the trees. Pottos that live near villages suffer from humans, who hunt them as bushmeat.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the pottos total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

Pottos are frugivorous animals and thus play an important role as seed dispercers in the ecosystem the live.


1. Potto on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potto
2. Potto on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/136847/4346742

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