Status: Least Concern
Range & Habitat
Their habitat includes lowland and upland tropical forests in Central to South America, Nicaragua to Peru and central Brazil.
Sloths spend their entire existence hanging suspended from the tree branches. They eat, sleep, mate and give birth in the trees. Limbs are long and well developed, and have two long, curved claws on their forelimbs and three on their hind limbs that hook to grasp the supporting branches. Sloths move by advancing one limb at a time in a slow fashion, helping them go unnoticed. Sloths descend to the ground about once a week to defecate and urinate. They cannot move well on the ground where they are most vulnerable. Sloths are nocturnal, sleeping most of the day. They become active about one hour before sunset, feeding on leaves, tender twigs and fruits. Special hairs encourage green algae to form on the fur which makes them indistinguishable from surrounding moss and plants.
Reproduction & Growth
Each year the female gives birth (upside down) to a single offspring after a gestation period of 11 1/2 months. A baby is born with claws and it clings to the mother until it can feed itself, at approximately five months. The young will stay near the mother for two years. Females reach maturity at 3 1/2 years, males at 4-5 years. They grow to be about 21-29 inches long and weigh about 9-19 pounds. Relatively long lived, their life span is 12-20 years. In captivity sloths have been known to live as long as 32 years.
In the Wild: Foliage and shoots of plants. In the Zoo: Carrots, yams, greens, corn on the cob, fruit, leaf eater biscuit, canned SD diet, canned ZuPreem diet.