Illegal Pet Trade

The Plight of the Slow Loris

If you spend much time on social media, odds are pretty good that you’ve come across one of the slow loris “tickling” videos that went viral a few years ago. These videos attracted global attention to slow lorises, and not in a good way.


Tickling slow loris by wannabethesnake , posted on

The slow loris is a small nocturnal primate found in the rainforests of Southeast Asia (Bittel, 2013). These omnivorous primates live in family groups and travel from treetop to treetop to forage.The two biggest threats to the survival of this species is habitat loss and the pet trade (Gron, 2009). As deforestation marches on, lorises have less and less habitat to forage in and are often cut off from other lorises and suitable habitat as forests are fragmented by roads and human development. While deforestation is a huge problem for lorises, the main threat to these animals is the illegal pet trade.

loris wild

“Sri Lankan Slender Loris” by Alex Pyron is licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported


One important thing to realize is that pet slow loris shown in the tickle videos aren’t having a great time. While it may seem cute, a loris raising its arms is actually a stressed out loris preparing to defend itself. The slow loris is the world’s only venomous primate, with venom glands located near their elbows (Kallimullah et al., 2008). When they are attacked, they lick these glands and deliver a powerful, venomous bite. Lorises is the pet trade have their teeth pulled or cut out to prevent owners from experiencing this bite first hand (Bittel, 2013).

Even if the slow loris did enjoy the tickling and they did not experience having their teeth removed to prevent giving a nasty bite, a slow loris still would not be a great choice for a pet. It would be very difficult to provide appropriate care for a loris at home. The loris spends its nights wandering great distances to find the variety of foods it needs to remain healthy. Not only is this diet hard to replicate in captivity, leading to a number of health problems ranging from pneumonia to metabolic bone disease for the loris, it is also difficult to provide a loris with the space it requires to explore and forage (International Animal Rescue, n.d.; Nekaris et al., 2013). Keeping a loris in a cage and feeding it an inappropriate diet is a type of abuse. It has been estimated that 95% of the lorises that survive the transportation process and become pets will later die from improper care, malnutrition and dental infections from the removal of their teeth (McGreal, 2008).


Slow lorises have their front teeth cut or pulled before being sold as pets, a practice that often results in infection and death”. By International Animal Rescue is licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0


Even more abuse comes from the conditions the loris must face being taken from its home in the wild to the home of its new owner. Lorises are snatched from their habitats, often separated from their mothers at a young age, and housed in cramped, unsanitary conditions while awaiting transport (International Animal Rescue, n.d.). If the loris is being smuggled over international borders, they will be shoved into small, poorly ventilated containers with a number of other lorises (International Animal Rescue, n.d.). It is important to realize that up to 90% of captured lorises die during this process (Black, 2007).  While there is a growing number of dealers claiming to be selling captive bred wildlife, these claims have almost always been found to be bogus and the animals snatched from the wild (Nuwer, 2014). Additionally, owning a slow loris is against the law in countries that have signed the CITES treaty, which regulates the trafficking of wildlife (Bittel, 2013). Capturing a slow loris from the wild is also illegal in all of the 13 countries in which the loris can be found (Bittel, 2013).


To learn more about the slow loris and how you can help end this cruel trafficking, you can visit Little Fireface Project ( or International Animal Rescue (


Cited Sources


Bittel, J. (2013, September 23). The Curse of Cute. OnEarth. Retrieved from


Black, R. (8 June 2007). “Too cute for comfort”. BBC News. Archived from the original on 9 January 2011.


Gron KJ. 2009 March 18. Primate Factsheets: Slow loris (Nycticebus) Conservation . <;. Accessed 2017 April 15.


Kalimullah, EA. Schmidt, SM. Schmidt, MJ. Lu, JJ. 2008. Beware the Pygmy Slow Loris? Clinical Toxicology 46(7): 602.

McGreal, S. (2008). “Vet Describes the Plight of Indonesia’s Primates” (PDF). IPPL News. International Primate Protection League. 35 (1): 7–8. ISSN 1040-3027.


Nekaris KAI, Campbell N, Coggins TG, Rode EJ, Nijman V (2013)Correction: Tickled to Death: Analysing Public Perceptions of ‘Cute’ Videos of Threatened Species (Slow Lorises – Nycticebus spp.) on Web 2.0 Sites. PLOS ONE 8(8): 10.1371/annotation/7afd7924-ca2b-4b9c-ac1b-2cc656b3bf42.

Nuwer, R. (2014, October 30). The Black Market Trade for Endangered Animals Flourishes on the Web. Newsweek. Retrieved from


Primate Factsheets: Slow loris (Nycticebus) Conservation. (n.d.). Retrieved from



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