Three-Toed Sloth

The Facts

  • Genus: Bradypus

  • Conservation Status: Endangered

  • Location: Central and South American Rain Forests

Three-Toed Sloth
Three-Toed Sloth

The Scoop

Three-toed sloths are the world’s slowest land mammals. They spend most of their lives motionless, and sleep for around 15 to 20 hours a day. Because sloths are so sedentary, green algae grows on their fur, helping to camouflage them in the Central and South American rainforests they call home.   

Sloths’ diets are primarily made up of leaves, shoots and fruits, and in some cases, they will also eat insects and small lizards. Because they spend most of their lives hanging from tress, sloths get most of their water intake from the consumption of waterlogged plants.

On average, three-toed sloths grow to about the size of a large cat or small dog (18 inches), and live for around 25-30 years. Sloths are identified by the number of long, prominent claws they have on each front foot, which help them firmly grip tree branches.

To move around on land, sloths have to dig into the ground with their front claws, and use their strong front legs to drag themselves along. This slow and inefficient movement prevents these animals from evading predators on land, so they spend most of their lives in tall rainforest trees.

Did You Know?

  • Sloths spend nearly all their time hanging from branches – even while they sleep.

  • Baby sloths hang from their mothers’ necks for the first nine months of their lives.

  • Sloths are surprisingly good swimmers because of their long arms.

  • Sloths have extra neck vertebrae that allow them to turn their heads 270 degrees.

  • Three-toed sloths emit a long, high-pitched call that sounds like “eyes.”

 Image Credit


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