Pygmy slow loris no fan of the moon

30 April 2012 - 14:23 By Times LIVE

Pygmy slow loris' tend to be less active on cool nights when the moon is bright according to research.

The pygmy slow Loris
The pygmy slow Loris
Image: David Haring / Duke Lemur Center
The pygmy slow Loris
The pygmy slow Loris
Image: David Haring / Duke Lemur Center

Researchers reported in the online journal PLoS One that they found pygmy slow lorises to be less active on bright moonlit nights, possibly as a means of avoiding predators.

"The most plausible explanation is that on bright cold nights the combined risk of being seen and attacked by predators and heat loss outweigh the benefit of active behaviours," according to the research.

The scientists observing the primates found that this was particularly marked in the cool dry season, as otherwise the lorises could use the fuller foliage of the wet season to hide and thus weren't all that disturbed by the moon.

"The lunar phobic behaviour observed is possibly seasonal and the pygmy loris may be more active on bright nights during the wet season when temperatures are higher and the forest provides denser vegetation cover," according to the research.

"It has been suggested that highly insectivorous nocturnal primates will be more lunar philic (moon loving) because moonlight improves their hunting success," the researchers say.

"Although animals in our site were frequently observed to catch and consume arthropods, and a high proportion of invertebrates were found in scats throughout the study period, our data did not indicate that this resource was important enough to select for lunar philia in the local population at the site," the scientists report.

X