Nycticebus coucang is one of the two venomous mammals that exist, with the other being the platypus; however, the slow loris is the only venomous primate.

A venomous animal, like the sea snake, typically has direct access to its venom, but it is controversial whether or not the slow loris be called venomous because the venom is only acquired through grooming. The venom from Nycticebus coucang comes from the brachial glands on its arms. This gland produces an oily secretion and can be found in adolescents as young as 6 weeks old.

As a slow loris is grooming itself, the venom from this gland gets into a unique structure in their mouths called a tooth comb. The tooth comb is used for grooming and can transfer venom to baby slow lorises and to itself (see Reproduction). The dental comb is formed on the lower jaw in a slow lorises' incisors.

The venom has no need to be used on prey so it is solely a defense mechanism.  These animals are typically non-aggressive and only bite when they feel very threatened. It is unclear whether or not the slow loris bites with its toxin to scare a predator or attacker off or if it is to incapacitate the attacker so it can get away. The venom contains about 200 volatile components to it and the structure of the venom is not yet known. The venom emits disgusting and nauseating smells from both the toothcomb in the mouth and directly from the brachial glands. The strong smelling substance is usually released in times of stress. When this secretion gets into the mouth and is mixed with saliva, the oily substance becomes toxic.

Nycticebus pygmaeous species can secrete the same venom as Nycticebus coucang species so some consider these animals to be the same species (see Classification). Most types of slow loris can secrete venom, but the venom is not toxic in all species.

There have been reports of people getting bit, but they are typically safe as pets. Bites from a slow loris can be extremely painful and have been known to cause illness and even death in humans in some circumstances. Those who have severe allergies can go into anaphylactic shock minutes after a bite has happened. Some symptoms of the venom include itchy red skin, a decrease in blood pressure, shock, painful muscle convulsions, respiratory, and heart problems.

When a slow loris is avoiding attack, it will wrap its limbs around itself which can spread the venom onto its fur protecting itself from being bitten a second time if an animal decides to attack. (See Interactions)



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