The gray slender loris, with the scientific name Loris lydekkerianus, is a nocturnal species of slender loris endemic to regions in India and Sri Lanka. It is a member of the genus Loris, along with the red slender loris (Loris tardigradus). A major difference between the gray and red slender loris lies in their ears.
The gray slender lorises have a gray or red-toned coat, depending on their location. In India, their habitat features dry tropical forests, while in Sri Lanka, they live in forests with evergreen trees. The diet of these animals is mostly composed of insects; however, they do feed on some other materials, like small invertebrates, mollusks, and so on. They are social in nature and have definite group structures. The females give birth to one or two infants, and these young lorises reach sexual maturity following 10-15 months after birth. Unfortunately, these animals are highly threatened due to a variety of artificial causes. Continued efforts are required to bring their numbers up in the wild.
The gray slender loris (L. lydekkerianus) is a kind of nocturnal primate, which has been divided into four subspecies based on its geographical range.
This primate is a part of the class Mammalia, just like the patas monkey. These lorises are members of the family Lorisidae, which includes other loris species, pottos, and angwantibos.
According to the International Union For Conservation Of Nature or IUCN, the population of the gray slender loris species is declining in the wild, with nearly 20-25% decline in their previous generations in the last few years. Their population is also marked as being severely fragmented, which is further contributing to their declining numbers.
The gray slender loris is native and endemic to eastern and southern India and certain regions in Sri Lanka. Out of the four subspecies, two subspecies (Mysore gray slender loris and Malabar gray slender loris) are found in India, and the other two (Highland slender loris and Northern slender gray loris) are native to Sri Lanka.
The habitat of a gray slender loris is mainly characterized by trees in forests. In India, these animals are observed in the tropical dry forests of the mountains of the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats. They also inhabit scrub forests. In Sri Lanka, the gray slender loris inhabits dry-zone forests with evergreen trees.
This species of slender loris is a social primate, and hence, they are known to live in groups. Each group contains infants, up to two adult males, and a minimum of one female. Interestingly, these animals are known to sleep in small groups, which can constitute up to seven members. Such a group is known as a 'sleeping pod' or 'sleeping ball'. The gray slender lorises tangle their limbs with one another while sleeping in such a formation.
In the wild, the lifespan of a gray slender loris is nearly 16 years. However, when kept captive, they have a much longer lifespan that can be more than 20 years.
The mating season in this slender loris species has not been established. However, females are known to reproduce one or two babies at a time, following various mating rituals and successful fertilization. The young infants cling to their mothers for the first four weeks following birth. After this time period is over, the mother lorises are known to leave their young at night, while the males check in on them.
The conservation status of the gray slender loris has been marked as Near Threatened by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature or IUCN. This species faces a number of threats, including habitat loss, hunting, use in traditional medicine, and illegal pet trades.
The gray slender lorises are unique primates, mainly due to their appearance. The pelage in these animals varies, depending on the subspecies. For instance, the subspecies native to India have brownish fur, while in Sri Lanka, the gray slender lorises have more of a dark red tinge to their pelage. Sometimes, a dark stripe is seen along their back, while their abdominal region appears pale or creamy. Another striking feature of the gray slender loris is its big and round eyes. Like a few other species of slender lorises, these animals do not have prominent tails. Their fingers and limbs look very long and slender.
The gray slender loris is quite a cute primate due to its small size and large eyes. Additionally, its rarity in the wild further adds to its charm.
The methods of communication in the gray slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus) are mainly through visual, chemical, olfactory, and auditory means. These nocturnal animals are known to produce loud calls during the night, which can sound like growls or 'whoops', and also when faced with a potential predator. The male gray slender lorises engage in emitting growls, whistles, and chitters when competing amongst themselves. The young infants of this species make a 'zic' sound to alert the mothers of their location. Additionally, these primates communicate through urination. They mark their territory through urine washing, which can also be a sign of stress response, as well.
The average body length of a male gray slender loris is 9.4 in (24.1 cm), while that of a female is 9.2 in (23.4 cm). In comparison to another species of primate, known as the ring-tailed lemur, which measures between 17.7 in (45 cm), it can be clearly inferred that the latter is much larger in comparison to gray slender lorises.
Though the exact speed of a gray slender loris has not been assessed, this primate is not a fast-moving creature. Even when under threat, it relies on alarm calls to save itself. Additionally, while foraging, these primate species have been observed to be quite slow and careful.
The weight of a gray slender loris is between 6.3-10.2 oz (180-290 g). The gray slender lorises are almost of the same weight as the red slender loris (Loris tardigradus), which has an average weight of 10 oz (275 g).
The male and female animals of this species are known as male gray slender loris and female gray slender loris, respectively.
A baby gray slender loris is known as an infant.
Gray slender lorises have an omnivorous diet but mainly rely on insects like termites and ants. A few other arthropods included in their food materials are spiders, beetles, and mollusks. Apart from these, smaller vertebrates are rarely consumed, as well. However, in captivity, they do feed on small mammals and geckos, regularly. Among plant products, the gray slender lorises feed on fruits and plant sap. These primates are known to be very meticulous while hunting for food. Additionally, a gray slender loris inhabits places with high insect density, as it does not tend to travel in search of food.
In general, a gray slender loris is not considered to be dangerous, like the slow lorises, which possess venom, which might be fatal to humans. That being said, it is still advisable not to antagonize this animal, as it might resort to biting.
Given the population range of the gray slender loris and its truly wild nature, it would be best not to keep this animal as a pet.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
The gray slender lorises were once thought to be a subspecies of the red slender loris (Loris tardigradus) and had the scientific name Loris tardigradus lydekkerianus. Eventually, in 2001, sufficient data was collected, and the two animals were divided into separate species.
The word 'endemic' refers to an animal being restricted to a particular geographical region. Since, in general, the various loris species are found only in Southeast Asia, it can be said that these animals are endemic to the said region. Additionally, the gray slender loris is native to eastern and southern India and parts of Sri Lanka, and hence, they are an endemic species as well.
The breeding behavior in the gray slender lorises is quite interesting. During the breeding season, both the male and female loris mate with multiple partners. There are significant courtship displays before copulation takes place, and these displays include vocalizations, increased grooming among the males, and the males following their potential mates. Competition between two male gray slender lorises has also been observed. Once mating has been carried out successfully, the females give birth to one or two infants, following a gestation period that lasts for nearly six months. The female gray slender lorises can give birth to four infants in a year.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these tree pangolin facts and long-tailed hawk facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable slow loris coloring pages.
Second image by Dr. K.A.I. Nekaris.