Common Name: Sloths
Range: The Sloth is an animal that is found mainly in forests throughout central and South America. The two toed sloths can be found from Nicaragua to Ecuador. They are also available in the green forest of Costa Rica. The three toed sloth species is also found from southern Honduras through Panama and Colombia through the Amazon to the northern Argentina. Both the species can be found in the national parks of Costa Rica, such as Corcovado National Park, La Selva, Santa Rosa National Park, San Vito, and San Jose.
Size: The average sloth tends to be around 50 – 60cm long with a short tail of around 7cm in length. The body temperature of the sloth is usually around 30 to 34 degrees Celsius (86 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit).
Weight: It is weighing 4.5 – 6 kg (10-13lbs)
Diet: sloths have an omnivorous diet and they happily eat both plants and insects, the majority of the sloth’s diet is leaves. Leaves contain very little nutrition so the sloth has adapted to have complex digestive system in order for the leaves to pass through the sloth efficiently. The sloth occasionally eats small reptiles and birds.
Average life span: The average lifespan has a life of 25-40 years.
Habitat: The sloth is an integral and indigenous part to the forest of South America and Central America with the general opinion being that the sloth cannot survive outside of this specific habitat. They live at tall trees in tropical rainforest of Costa Rica.
Breeding/Reproduction: Sloths are solitary animals and only come together to mate. Sloths are known to have a loud call, which is thought to increase in frequency during the mating season. After a gestation period of 4 -5 months, the female sloth gives birth to a single baby sloth. Sloths mate and give birth while hanging in the trees. Three-toed sloth babies are often seen clinging to their mothers—they travel by hanging on to them for the first nine months of their lives. Sloths are plentiful in the tropical forests of Costa Rica.There are several Santuary for Sloth. Aviarios del Caribe, the Sloth Sanctuary near Cahuita, Costa Rica is one of them.
Predators: Eagles, Snakes, Jaguar
The sloth has been infamous for centuries as being an extremely slow moving and lazy creature, and even has a deadly sin named after itself! This lazy mammal has two distinct families, Megalonychidae, the two-toed sloth, and Bradypodidae, the three-toed sloth. All of the 6 species of these two sloth families are found in South America.
The sloth spends most of its day hanging upside down from trees and is extremely slow moving and lazy creatures. They have less than 1/4th the muscle mass of any other animal of similar weight! To protect themselves from predators, sloths have evolved fur that hosts symbiotic cyanobacteria which helps them camouflage themselves. In addition to this, the extreme slow moving nature of the sloth means, it is extremely difficult to spot for a predator. The sloth has evolved specialized limbs that enable them to keep hanging from branches for long amounts of time. In fact, a sloth will sleep, eat and even give birth hanging upside down a tree. Even after death, sloths are often found hanging upside down a tree, since their specialized limbs prevent them from falling.
Although the sloth primarily lives in trees, and can barely crawl any faster than 4 meters per minute, it is a pretty good swimmer. This mammal is also one of rare species to not have 7 neck bones. The two-toed sloth has 6 neck bones, while the three-toed sloth has 9 neck bones.
The main predators of the sloth are the harpy eagles, humans and the jaguars. In Costa Rica, the major cause of death among sloths is reported to be by human poaching and death by electrical wires. The rapid deforestation in Americas has also caused a decline in the sloth population and at this rate; this slow and lazy, yet cuddly creature will soon be in danger of extinction.
Sloths are thought to be distantly related to animals like anteaters and armadillos. All three belong to a group of mammals that are thought to have first evolved around 60 million years ago.