Two-Toed Sloth

(Choloepus didactylus)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in tropical rainforests of Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, Ecuador, Peru, and northern Brazil.

Size: 20-30 inches long; 10-20 pounds

Wild Diet: Leaves, berries, twigs, and fruit

Predators: Jaguars, ocelots, harpy eagles, and humans

Reproduction: Two-toed sloths are ready to mate between 3-5 years of age. Females deliver a single offspring each year after a gestation of 6 months. A newborn two-toed sloth weighs about 1 pound and may nurse for up to 3 months. The baby stays on its mother’s chest and belly for about a year, feeding on any leaves it can reach from that position. If separated, the baby utters a bleating call that alerts its mother.

Behavior: Two-toed sloths spend nearly their entire lives upside down: sleeping, eating, mating and giving birth in this position. They descend to the forest floor only about once a week, in order to defecate and switch trees. They are usually quiet, slow-moving and inoffensive, but can strike out with their front claws if threatened or annoyed. They sometimes grab an enemy with their foot and pull it closer to issue a bite. The main defense of two-toed sloths, however, is their wonderful camouflage. Because algae grows in their fur and they can remain motionless for a long time, they are extremely hard to detect in trees.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Two-toed sloths are widely distributed and many live in protected areas. However, they are also impacted by the illegal wildlife trade. Traffickers purchase young sloths to sell as pets, while their mothers are killed and sold as bush meat. The survival of the two-toed sloth also depends on the survival of the rainforest.

Did you know?

  • Two-toed sloths are much more active than three-toed sloths and will move quite a bit from tree to tree.
  • Sloths are good swimmers.