Three-toed Sloth

They are very inactive creatures, but they do climb down to the ground once or twice a week to excrete or move to other trees.

Three-toed sloths feed by pulling on flimsy branches with their forelegs, to bring them close to their mouths. They spend long periods waiting for their tough food to digest. Because they are so inactive, sloths have a lower body temperature than other mammals - sometimes as low as 24°C (75°F). Their fur is sometimes tinged with green because algae are growing in it. The three-toed sloths may absorb some of the algal nutrients through their skin, and the green colour helps to camouflage them among branches and leaves.

Unlike other mammals, threetoed sloths have long, grey hairs that point downwards when the animals are hanging upside down from tree branches. This ensures that rainwater runs off the fur easily. The sloths climb using their strong, hook-like claws.

Three-toed sloths have very simple societies. They live alone and females only produce offspring every two years. Mating can occur throughout the year though, with both partners still hanging upside down. Mothers give birth in this position too, and the young cling to the hair on their mothers’ breasts.

Distribution: Eastern Brazil.

Habitat: Coastal forest.

Food: Young leaves, twigs and buds.

Size: 41 - 70 cm (16 - 27.5 in); 2.25 - 5.5 kg (5 - 12 lb).

Maturity: 3.5 years.

Breeding: Single young born throughout the year.

Life span: 20 years.

Status: Endangered.


Brown-throated Sloth

Size: 55 - 60 cm (21.5 - 24 in); 3.5 - 4.5 kg (7.5 - 10 lb).

This species of three-toed sloths lives in the tropical forests of Central and S. America. It feeds on the foliage of cecropia trees. The sloth's legs are designed to allow the animal to hang from trees; as a result, it is severely disadvantaged on the ground, since its legs are too weak to carry its body weight. In common with other three-toed sloths, this species has three more neck vertebrae than other mammals. Male brown-throated sloths have yellow or orange patches on their backs.