Pygmy Slow Loris
Nycticebus pygmaeus
Population size
Life Span
20 years
g oz 
cm inch 

The pygmy slow loris (Xanthonycticebus pygmaeus ) is a species of slow loris found east of the Mekong River in Vietnam, Laos, eastern Cambodia, and China. It occurs in a variety of forest habitats, including tropical dry forests, semi-evergreen, and evergreen forests. It was originally classified within Nycticebus until it was transferred to the genus Xanthonycticebus in 2022.The animal is nocturnal and arboreal, crawling along branches using slow movements in search of prey. Unlike other primates, it does not leap. It lives together in small groups usually with one or two offspring. An adult can grow to around 19 to 23 cm (7.5 to 9.1 in) long and has a very short tail. It weighs about 450 g (1.0 lb). Its diet consists of fruits, insects, small fauna, tree sap, and floral nectar. The animal has a toxic bite, which it gets by licking a toxic secretion from glands on the inside of its elbows. The teeth in its lower jaw form a comb-like structure called a toothcomb that is used for scraping resin from tree bark.

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The pygmy slow loris mates once every 12–18 months and has one or two offspring after an average gestation period of six months. For the first few days, the young loris clings to the belly of its mother. The offspring will be nursed for an average of 4.5 months, but weaning can sometimes take up to 8 months. The females reach sexual maturity at about 9 months, while the male reaches maturity by about 18–20 months. The pygmy slow loris is seasonally fertile during the months of July and October. Chemical signals play a role in the reproductive behavior of female pygmy slow lorises. Urine scent markings have a strong characteristic odor and are used to communication information about social relationships.

The habitat of the pygmy slow loris in Vietnam was greatly reduced due to extensive burning, clearing, and defoliating of forests during the Vietnam War. Extensive hunting for traditional medicines is currently putting severe pressure on Cambodian populations. The pygmy slow loris is seriously threatened by hunting, trade, and habitat destruction; consequently, it is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and in 2020 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified it as endangered.

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Generally solitary


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Slow Animals


A Pygmy slow loris is a small, compact creature with a short tail, a short, rounded muzzle, round eyes that are directed forward, and fur that is short and dense. They are mostly brown, gray, or reddish-brown. Between their eyes are white lines, with dark markings encircling them, and a faint medial stripe on the crown. Their hands are broad and they have an opposable thumbs. The two genders are similar in appearance.



The Pygmy slow loris occurs east of Vietnam’s Mekong River, in eastern Cambodia, Laos, and the Yunnan province in the south of China. It inhabits primary and secondary rainforests, tropical montane forests, as well as degraded habitats and also occurs in evergreen forests in Laos and bamboo thickets in Vietnam.

Pygmy Slow Loris habitat map

Climate zones

Pygmy Slow Loris habitat map
Pygmy Slow Loris
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Habits and Lifestyle

Pygmy slow lorises are arboreal, nocturnal quadrupeds. They remain in trees almost exclusively, except on rare occasions when potential predators threaten them. They are thought to move about almost constantly throughout the night during warmer months. In the winter months, they can enter a state of torpor, living off the fat stored in their bodies. At this time they reduce their activity, they do not forage, and they lower their body temperature and metabolic rate. This hibernation-like behavior takes place in the wild as well as in captivity. Pygmy slow lorises are usually encountered alone or in small groups of two to four individuals and males use scent marking to defend territories and mark their boundaries.

Group name

Diet and Nutrition

The Pygmy slow loris is an omnivore, eating ants, insects, and a wide variety of fruits and plants, preferring soft fruits and gums, though it will readily eat tender shoots and other parts of plants.

Mating Habits

6 months
1-2 infants
4.5-8 months

This species is polygynous. A male's territory usually includes that of several females with which he mates. Individuals communicate with each other through whistles. The scent is used as a cue to find a mate. Female pygmy slow lorises give birth every 12 to 18 months from July to October. The gestation period is about 6 months, and 1 to 2 offspring are born, 2 being common. Births occur in the open, with infants being born fully formed and covered with fur and with their eyes open. As soon as they are born, infants will cling to their mother's belly. Later, mothers "park" their babies in a safe place while they go foraging. Babies are nursed for 4.5 months on average, though sometimes weaning occurs after 8 months. Females are sexually mature at about 9 months old and males at 18 to 20 months old.


Population threats

The Pygmy slow loris is under threat by severe habitat degradation within the areas where it lives. For example, in Yunnan in China, forest cover has decreased by 42 percent since the time of the mid-1990s, and in Vietnam as a result of the war, 30 percent of the original forest cover is all that remains. The impacts of habitat loss from logging, defoliant spray, and military activities are made worse by hunting of this species for food, for the pet trade, and for use in the traditional medicine of the Khmer people of Cambodia.

Population number

According to IUCN, Pygmy slow loris is widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

Ecological niche

Due to consuming a large amount of fruit, Pygmy slow lorises probably have a role in seed dispersal.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Pygmy slow lorises are called "slow lorises" due to their speed of movement, but observations at the Duke Lemur Center suggest that, in fact, they move faster than other slow loris species.
  • Pygmy slow lorises move along branches by means of hand over foot, as they stretch from one branch to another.
  • The name 'loris' may derive from the Dutch 'loeres' meaning 'sluggish' or it is possibly from 'loeris', and the term was used in the past by Dutch seafarers who means 'clown'.
  • Pygmy lorises will often hang upside-down by their feet from branches in order to use both hands for eating.
  • The slow loris is one of the rarest primates on the planet, diverging about 40 million years ago from their closest relatives, the African bush babies.
  • Although considered slow movers, slow lorises frequently ’race walk’ and are able to move as far as 8 km-per night. They are also able to stay totally still for an hour after hour if this is needed.
  • The Pygmy slow loris is the only "poisonous" primate that we know of. Under its elbow is a patch of venom that is can use for protection against predators, in which case it licks its elbow and spread the poison over its teeth. The venom is delivered when it bites its enemy.
  • The Pygmy slow loris also uses its venom to protect its offspring. With her baby covered with venom, the mother keeps predators away from it while she forages for food.
  • The pygmy slow loris produces a toxin from glands on its elbows, which it licks to poison its teeth. More amazing still, the toxin is only activated when mixed with the loris's saliva in a natural chemical reaction. This makes it the only known venomous primate!


1. Pygmy Slow Loris Wikipedia article -
2. Pygmy Slow Loris on The IUCN Red List site -

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