By Discovery News | December 3, 2015
The pygmy slow loris, which lives in Cambodia, China, Vietnam, and Laos, has been documented using hibernation to conserve energy.
Previously, the only known primates to hibernate were lemurs living on the island nation of Madagascar.
The findings come from a paper just published in the journal Scientific Reports by a team of researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna in Austria.
The pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) is small, at about 7 to 9 inches long and typically weighing about 1 pound. The nocturnal creature lives in trees and, unlike other primates, it can’t leap. Its diet includes tree gum, insects, and fruit.
The scientists studied the animal’s body temperature in the fall, winter and spring in Vietnam. They found that the creature engaged in episodes of hibernation between December and February that lasted up to 63 hours each.
The researchers suspect both an internal clock mechanism that kicks in during seasons of food scarcity and ambient temperature drops each help induce the hibernation periods.
“In Vietnam, where we studied the animals, there are pronounced seasons,” said the study’s lead author Thomas Ruf in a statement. “Ambient temperature can drop to 5 centigrade. This is exactly when the probability of animals entering a hibernation episode was highest.”
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