7 interesting things to know about the Potto or African Softly-Softly

by Staff writer

Potto (Perodicticus potto) is the largest member of the lorisidae family, which comprises the lorises, pottos and angwantibos.

Pottos can be found in several African countries including Guinea, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Though sometimes found in swamps, mountain forests and areas near the rivers, this beautiful primate prefers life in dense tropical rainforests, very high up the trees.

Here are some interesting things to know about the potto:

1. Pottos are called Softly-Softly for the way it moves without making a sound. It is a relatively small animal, weighing in at about 3 pounds/1.5 kg and reaching an average length of 12-14 inches or 30-40 cm.

2. If confronted, the potto will turn and hide its face and neck-butt the opponent. They do bite on occasion though and the saliva of a potto has been found to have inflammatory properties, causing swelling at the site of the bite!

3. Another notable feature is the opposable thumbs which help them to firmly grasp the branches of a tree. Pottos move slowly and quietly, always using at least 2 limbs to grasp a branch.

4. Pottos are nocturnal animals, moving around at night and sleeping in the leaves during the day. They typically live in the rainforests in tropical parts of Africa, very high up in the trees.

This is the primary reason it has so few predators.

They almost never come down from the trees, and no predators that can get as high as the treetops they inhabit.

5. The only real threat to pottos is to those who live near villages because they are hunted for bushmeat.

Pottos themselves subsist on a diet primarily made up of fruit, tree gums, and insects, in that order. Some have been known to eat bats, but this is not common.

6. These primates emit an odor not unlike the smell of curry from their scent glands located underneath the tail. The courting ritual is a mutual grooming session while hanging upside down.

They lick and comb each other’s fur with their claws and teeth, marking each other with their scent glands.

7. Pottos mate face to face and upside down. Once impregnated, the gestational period lasts for approximately 170 days, producing only a single offspring. A baby potto is not fully mature until 18 months of age.
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