Jan 27

#LoveSpecies nominee: southern two-toed sloth

Nominated by: Pro Wildlife e.V.

Why do you love it?

Everything that the two-toed sloth does is very slow, and by slow we mean really, really slow! When you see it “moving” (if it moves while you’re looking at it) it seems like somebody has pressed the slow motion button. They can even swim in slow-mo. They are so slow that algae grow on their body, which makes the animals invisible in the canopy. It is also believed that this sloth will occasionally eat some of the algae off of its body and has the ability to absorb some of the algae’s nutrients through its skin. Even more fascinating, sloths will only leave the safety of the treetops to do their “business”, which only happens once a month.

What are the threats to the two-toed sloth?

The southern two-toed sloth is threatened by habitat loss and collection for the international pet trade.

What are you doing to save it?

There are several sloth species, some of them are endangered, some not. One of the threats to all sloth species is the international pet trade. We at Pro Wildlife work on a better national law that forbids the private keeping of sloths and other exotics. They don’t belong in households and the trade is heavily reducing their numbers in the wild.


Oct 21

Saturday was International Sloth Day, so we thought we would celebrate by sharing our favourite sloth facts and images.

Sloth by name, sloth by nature

Sloths are one of the sleepiest animals known to man and can spend up to 20 hours per day sleeping.

Pale-throated three-toed sloth sleeping

We are family

One thing that can definitely be said about sloths is that they are extremely unique. Many people would guess that they are closely related to primates due to their impressive tree-climbing skills, although they are actually closely related to anteaters and armadillos.

Pygmy three-toed sloth climbing

There’s something behind you!

Sloths belong to the group Xenarthra, which means ‘strange joints’. The extra joints in sloth’s necks allow them to rotate their necks a remarkable 270 degrees.

Pale-throated three-toed sloth suspended from tree

Hanging out

The maned three-toed sloth spends so much time hanging upside down that its internal organs are positioned differently to other mammals.

Maned three-toed sloth climbing

Slow and steady

The slightly green appearance of sloths is due to the algae which live in their fur. This algae helps to camouflage the sloth and therefore protects them from aerial predation. This algae is able to flourish within the fur of the sloth due to their tendency to remain still for many hours.

Brown-throated three-toed sloth male hanging from branch

Leaf lovers

The extremely slow movements of sloths can be attributed to their low-energy diet. As folivores sloths eat a primarily leaf-based diet, which has resulted in them having a low metabolism and body temperature.

Southern two-toed sloth feeding while hanging from a tree

Don’t make me come down

Sloths remain in their arboreal habitat for pretty much 100% of their lives,  and only descend from the trees to defecate. Sloths have extremely strong arms but very weak legs, which means that moving along the ground is extremely difficult. When on the ground, they dig in their front claws and pull themselves along on their stomachs. Surprisingly, sloths are very good swimmers, using their long arms to move through the water.

Brown-throated three-toed sloth crawling on ground

Supersize sloths

Fossil records show that sloths have existed on earth for many thousands of years. Some remains indicate that these animals were previously super-sized, with a stature similar to an elephant.

Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Content Officer.


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