Should Lorises Be Kept As Pets?

LorisRecently, two transit passengers were arrested at India’s Indira Gandhi International Airport because both of them were carrying a tiny big-eyed loris in their underwear. A marsupial pouch stitched inside a man’s underwear is definitely the worst possible place for a loris to nestle, both from the animal’s point of view and the carrying human’s point of view. So why were the men taking so much pains to make the animals cross international borders? Probably because the animal is immensely valued as a pet.

With its big eyes, a loris indeed looks cute, and that could be the main reason for people getting attracted to a loris. But it is a wild animal and unless you have enough space in your backyard for a large woody enclosure to keep it, and can provide it with the type of food to which it is used in the wild, it is better not to keep it as a pet.

The bite of a loris is toxic. Since it is poachers who normally get it into the pet market, they extract the animal’s canines to render it safe as a pet. Since this is done without proper medical attention, it often causes infection and in some instances may even lead to the death of the animal.

The absence of canines may make it easy for you to handle it but then the animal will not be able to eat properly. It eats by tearing into live prey, and even if you are able to get the right type of prey into its enclosure, without its full quota of teeth, it will be helpless.

If by any chance you are not able to keep it and choose to return it to the wild, a canine-less loris will not be able to compete for food and survive in the wild. The absence of canines will effectively end its life in the wild.

Further, removing the canines will not make the animal non-toxic, even if it will make its bite less painful. The poison is discharged from the elbows of the animal, and it licks the poison to coat its bite with it. If the canines are not there, the smaller curved teeth will do the job of poison-coating the bite, and the owner is still at risk of getting a toxic bite.

In many countries it is illegal to keep loris as a pet because it is an endangered species. Still, there are rescue homes where all types of abandoned animals end up, and sometimes a loris that could not survive in the wild may end up in one of these shelters. Buying it from there is not illegal and in such instances it is easy for a buyer to get a license to adopt a loris, so far as he has got the provision and space to care for it. You cannot keep a loris like you keep a cat or a dog. It needs its large wooded territory, and you should be able to provide it.