Linnaeus’s Two-Toed Sloth

STATUSLeast Concern

COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Choloepus didactylus

DIETLeaves, twigs, fruit

RANGENorthern South America, including Peru and Brazil

HABITATStrictly arboreal, live in the upper canopy of trees in the rainforest

Linnaeus’s Two-Toed Sloth

Two-toed sloths can be 21-29 inches long, weighing 8.8 lbs-17.6 lbs. Unlike most animals, their brownish-gray fur grows from their stomach to their back. This allows rain to run off their bodies as they hang from trees. They have long curved claws that allow them to hang from and move across branches. Their backs may appear green due to symbiotic algae growth. This green tint helps camouflage these animals from predators. They are known for their extremely slow movement, only moving at approximately 6-8 feet a minute.

Habitat/ Range: Strictly arboreal, live in the upper canopy of trees in the rain-forest. Home range is in Central America and Northern South America, including Peru and Brazil.

Diet in Wild: Herbivores- Leaves, twigs, fruit

Diet in Zoo: Vitamin pellets, assorted fruits and vegetables

Predators: Humans for bush meat and pelts, Jaguars, Ocelots

Life Cycle/Social Structure: Males are solitary, females can be found in groups. Females will give birth to a single young after a 10 month gestation. Mothers will carry their young for up to nine months after birth, but obtain the strength to move on their own after 5 weeks. Females reach sexual maturity at 3 years old, males at 4-5 years old. Although they spend most of their time up in trees, they are also skilled swimmers. This skill is very helpful for traveling across rivers or streams that are commonly found in their wet habitat.

Life Span: 10-15 years in wild, over 30 years in captivity.

Interesting Facts:

  • The sloth’s internal organs, including stomach, spleen, and liver, are located in different areas due to their upside-down lifestyle.
  • Sloths have a four chambered stomach so they have a very slow metabolism, which means they will only defecate about once a week.
  • Sleep 15 hours a day, wake up at night to eat
  • Related to armadillos and anteaters

Conservation Message: Habitat destruction due to excessive logging in the rainforest

What You Can Do: Buy sustainable products- coffee and chocolate (KRAFT, Fair Trade Coffee, Rainforest Alliance) to decrease the destruction of natural habitats of rainforest animals.

Bibliography:
http://library.sandiegozoo.org/
http://www.lpzoo.org/
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/
http://www.macalester.edu/