Three-Toed Sloth

Three-Toed Sloth

Copyright @1997 Michael L.Smith

The Three-Toed Sloth, Bradypus tridactylus, is a slow-moving, nocturnal mammal that spends its entire life hanging upside-down in trees. This arboreal (tree-living) mammal is found in the tropical rain forests of South and Central America. The sloth is nocturnal (most active at night), and it sleeps about 15 hours each day.

Anatomy: Sloths have a thick brown (and slightly-greenish) fur coat and are about the size of a cat (roughly 2 feet = 61 cm long). They have a short, flat head, big eyes, a short snout, a short or non-existent tail, long legs, and tiny ears. Many sloths have colonies of green algae encrusting their fur, camouflaging the sloth in its forest environment.

Behavior: The sloth is an herbivore (a plant-eater) that eats at night. It eats leaves, tender young shoots, and fruit.

Predators: The jaguar and harpy eagle are the main predators of sloths. The sloth’s main defense against predators is to claw and nip at an attacker. A camouflaged coat and slow movement make sloths hard to see among the leaves.

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