Common Name:
Three-toed Sloth
Latin Name:
Bradypus variegatus

They can be found as far north as Nicaragua and throughout most of Southern America. Not commonly found in the southwestern region of that country.

In the neoptropics, sloths are relatively abundant. They are not of any concern on the endangered species list. Their predators are Harpy Eagles and Jaguars. The do face some threat from humans, but it is not major.

They have gray-brown to beige color fur covering all of their body, with a darker shade of brown on the throat and sides of the face. The face is usually a paler color, with a stripe of dark fur beneath each eye.

These animals usually grow to about 17 to 31 inches in size. They have a short tail. There is no sexual dimorphism aside from a patch of orange fur on the back of the males. They have three digits on each foot. The fingers on the forefeet are longer than the digits on the hind feet. Their head is found with a short nose and hidden ears.

Reproductive cycle:
Mating season occurs between January and March. The female has a call to attract males. Gestation lasts for around seven months. The newborn is completely covered in fur and already has claws. It will cling to the mother’s underside for around five months. After this time they have to move away because sloths are solitary.

The sloth is an arboreal creature, meaning it lives its life in the trees. It is found in many forests from evergreen to tropical rain forests. They can survive high levels of disturbance in an area.

Ecology and Interactions with other Species:
Sloths are arboreal so they spend most of their lives clinging to branches of various trees. They have microscopic cracks in their fur that lend themselves to a commensal species of algae. In addition to the algae, sloths have a species of moth that lives in their fur. This species keeps the algae in check.

Sloths are solitary creatures that spend most of their time in the trees. They come down to the ground usually every eight days to defecate. Some have been noted to spend 20% of their life in the same tree. The only time they are seen with other sloths is when they are mating or when rearing young. Males have been seen fighting over a mate using their fore claws. They are generally sleeping or inactive for 15 to 18 hours a day.

Sloths are generalist herbivores, meaning they will eat a range of leaf species. However, it has been noted that individuals can prefer one species over another.

Personal Experience:
On our way to Cahuita from La Selva, we visited a sloth sanctuary. This location had both two and three-toed sloth adults and juveniles. Here we learned many interesting facts about the species. Once we got to Cahuita, we saw sloths on several different occasions traveling on the infrastructure of the resort.

Greene, Harry W. "Agonistic Behavior by Three-toed Sloths, Bradypus Variegatus." Biotropica 21.4 (1989): 369-72. JSTOR. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.
Mendel, Frank C. "Use of Hands and Feet of Three-Toed Sloths (Bradypus Variegatus) during Climbing and Terrestrial Locomotion." Journal of Mammology 66.2 (1985): 359-66. JSTOR. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.
Nagy, Kenneth A., and G. Gene Montgomery. "Field Metabolic Rate, Water Flux, and Food Consumption in Three-Toed Sloths (Bradypus Variegatus)." Journal of Mammalogy 61.3 (1980): 465-72. JSTOR. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.