Primates are divided into two suborders. The slow loris falls into the strepsirrhini suborder and is a distant cousin to lemurs and aye-ayes. There are five species known, and these tropical animals are renowned for their unique faces and accomplished climbing abilities.
The Sunda, or greater slow loris, is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore and prefers a habitat comprised of evergreen tropical rain forests. Like other members of this animal family, it is arboreal, preferring treetops to solid ground, and it is primarily nocturnal. Unlike other types, it uses all four limbs to move in a manner that resembles crawling or scampering.
The Bengal slow loris is native to the Indian subcontinent and the Indochinese peninsula and can live in both evergreen and deciduous forests. It holds the distinction of being the largest species of slow loris, weighing between 2.5 to 4.5 lbs (1.13 to 2.04 kg). Like other members of the loris family, it is nocturnal and arboreal.
The pygmy slow loris is found in the tropical dry forests of Vietnam and Laos, as well as parts of China and Cambodia. Unlike other members of this animal family, it does not have a specific mating season or estrus period, instead mating year round. Of the all the known types, it is possibly the most threatened due to the deforestation and destruction of its habitat from logging and political conflicts.
As suggested by its name, the Javan slow loris is endemic to the island of Java. While it prefers primary and secondary forests, it can also be found crossing open grasslands, mangrove forests or farms and plantations. It shows a particular affinity for chocolate plantations.
The smallest of all, the Bornean slow loris is native to the islands of Borneo, Belitung and Bangka in Indonesia, but can also be found on the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines. They are difficult to spot in the wild, preferring to move in small groups in dense forests, though they are usually observed around fruit trees. Like most other loris types, it is nocturnal and arboreal.
All types of slow loris produce a toxic substance that they can comb over their bodies before biting or clawing a predator in self defense. Even so, their populations around the world are declining due to poaching, hunting and exotic animal trade and as such, they are considered threatened or vulnerable animals. Efforts to protect and replenish the species of loris have been met with some success, but their use in traditional medicines and as pets continues to threaten their vitality in the wild.