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Venomous or Poisonous Mammal? The Loris Uses Venom

Updated on May 14, 2012
Slender Loris
Slender Loris | Source
Blue Poison Dart Frog - The glands of poisonous alkaloids located in the skin serve as a defense mechanism to potential predators.
Blue Poison Dart Frog - The glands of poisonous alkaloids located in the skin serve as a defense mechanism to potential predators. | Source
Lionfish has poison in its spines!
Lionfish has poison in its spines! | Source

As the old Jim Stafford song states, “I don’t like spiders and snakes . . .”, and I make all efforts to steer clear of them, along with other venomous critters such as centipedes, scorpions, and wasps. And let’s not forget poisonous lizards, frogs, and toads. Then I learn that there are also mammals that are able to deliver venom to kill prey or to defend themselves – several in fact!

In nature, venomous mammals are quite rare. Venom is much more common among other vertebrates. In fact, there are substantially more venomous/poisonous reptiles such as snakes and lizards, or amphibians such as toads and frogs, or fish such as the stingray and lionfish.

Venom is usually delivered through fangs, such as those that are possessed by a snake or spider. Bees and wasps deliver their venom through a stinger. How would a small mammal produce and use venom to catch and/or kill their next meal, or to defend itself? That would depend on the mammal. Let’s take a look.

Slow Loris
Slow Loris | Source
Loris Habitat
Loris Habitat | Source

The Slow Loris

The loris is the only venomous primate. These unusual primates move slowly through the trees using long, slender limbs. Their most notable physical characteristic is their very large, round eyes.

Loris range in size from 8.3-15” (21-38 cm), and can weigh up to 4 pounds 6.54 oz pounds (2 kilograms). The life expectancy of the loris is 14 years in the wild, and 26 years in captivity. They have a stumpy tail. Their short, thick fur can have various colors, but is mostly reddish-gray with white undertones.

The loris has very well developed opposable thumbs, and is able hold and grasp limbs for extremely long periods of time. They have large eyes allowing for better nocturnal vision, but see mostly in black and white tones. Their small ears are all but hidden in their fur. They have a very keen sense of smell. The slow loris is more strongly built than the slender loris.

Loris’ live in the tree tops of tropical/subtropical rain forests, and in bamboo thickets, in India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia.

Loris’ mainly eat insects which they grab quickly from the air using both hands. Additionally they eat mollusks, lizards, bird eggs, small vertebrates, fruits and leaves. They are also able to eat things such as tree gum because their slow metabolism (40% lower than would be predicted because of their size) enables them to digest things that would normally be unpalatable.

The loris may live as a solitary individual or in small family groups. Although they mark their territory with urine, they are not strongly territorial. They whistle loudly to each other, using a single note, while foraging in the trees.

Slow Loris - In this picture, their opposable thumbs are easily viewed.
Slow Loris - In this picture, their opposable thumbs are easily viewed. | Source

The loris’ venom is produced on the elbows of their fore limbs. The loris can take this venom into its mouth to use as a defense. After mixing this venom with saliva, the loris will try to bite its attacker to deliver a very painful bite. The loris mother will lick this toxin onto their offspring before leaving them to forage. This toxin is not known to be fatal to humans, but will cause a very painful swelling. If the toxin does not deter a predator, the loris will often release its hold of the branches falling to the ground and rolling up into a protective ball. (Not sure how this helps, but that’s what they do!)

The slow loris is polygamous and breeds throughout the year. The females generally give birth to one, sometimes two, young, once or twice a year.

The slow loris is hunted for its large eyes which are used for local traditional medicine in Asia.

They are not alone . . .

Other poisonous mammals include: the solenodon, the shrew, and the platypus.

Baby Loris Images

Really nice pictures of babies, that you can click on. Then click the back arrow to return to this screen to choose the next picture.

Cute baby loris, click here.

Extremely small baby loris, click here.

Adorable baby, click here.

Two babies for the click of one, click here.

One last baby, click here.

Adult Loris Images

Really nice pictures of adults, that you can click on. Then click the back arrow to return to this screen to choose the next picture.

Red Slender Loris, click here.

Loris just hanging out, click here.

Slow Loris, click here.

Great face shot, click here.

Nice face shot, click here.

Another nice face shot, click here.

Face shot of slender loris, click here.

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Copyright © 2011 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)

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Comments: "Venomous or Poisonous Mammal? The Loris Uses Venom"

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    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      That's okay, JKing, I'm pretty confused a lot of the time. And it's Friday so we'll let it slide this time. Glad you found this series interesting. And glad you found the animal you were looking for. :) Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I got confused. meant to talk about the poison on the elbow in this one. Got so interested, I left the wrong comment with the wrong animal. Great hubs these are!!!!!

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Alastar Packer - Yeah, I'm not to fond of scorpions myself. They are creepy looking! I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      How about that homesteadbound. Had absolutely no idea there were any poisonous primates. Super info and article on them and others. Scorpions have always really given me a chill, don't really know why either.

    • homesteadbound profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Movie Master - funny you should mention the frog first, and the article is about loris. But, yes the blue frog is gorgeous, and dangerous.

      It is awful that they are hunted for their eyes. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hello homesteadbound, I have never heard of the blue poison dart frog before, those colours are incredible!

      How awful that an animal is hunted just for it's eyes!

      Really interesting read, thank you for sharing, voting up.


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