Welcome to the Best Places to see Sloths. Have you ever wondered if you could see sloths in the wild?
Sloths—the adorable and lethargic animals living in treetops—depend on the health and survival of Central and South American tropical forests. They spend much of their lives in the canopy, snoozing and remaining hidden from predators.
The animals live solitary lives and travel from tree to tree using canopy vines. Located in places such as Brazil and Panama, the six species of this strange and wonderful animal need healthy forests to survive.
Are you as much of a sloth lover as we are? Read on to find your favorite facts about the sloths…
Types of Sloths in the wild
There are two main species of sloth, identified by whether they have two or three claws on their front feet. The two species are quite similar in appearance, with roundish heads, sad-looking eyes, tiny ears, and stubby tails.
Two-toed sloths are slightly bigger and tend to spend more time hanging upside-down than their three-toed cousins, who will often sit upright in the fork of a tree branch.
Three-toed sloths have facial coloring that makes them look like they’re always smiling. They also have two extra neck vertebrae that allow them to turn their heads almost all the way around!
Within these two types of sloths exist 6 species as follow:
- Pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus)
- Maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus)
- Pale-throated sloth (Bradypus tridactylus)
- Brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus)
- Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus)
- Hoffman’s two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni)
Two-toed sloths tend to hang horizontally from branches, while three-toed sloths often sit in the forks of trees.
About the Best Places to see Sloths
|Speed: 0,27 km/h|
|Daily sleep: Brown-throated sloth: 15 – 18 hours|
|Scientific name: Folivora|
|Mass: Brown-throated sloth: 2,2 – 6,3 kg, Maned sloth: 4,5 – 10 kg, Pale-throated sloth: 3,8 – 6,5 kg|
|Gestation period: Brown-throated sloth: 152 – 243 days, Maned sloth: 150 days, Pale-throated sloth: 183 days|
|Length: Brown-throated sloth: 42 – 80 cm, Maned sloth: 55 – 75 cm, Pale-throated sloth: 50 – 75 cm|
Distribution & Habitat
Sloths are found throughout Central America and northern South America, including parts of Brazil and Peru. They live high in the trees of tropical rainforests, where they spend most of their time curled up or hanging upside down from branches.
They spend much of their lives in the canopy, snoozing and remaining hidden from predators. The animals live solitary lives and travel from tree to tree using canopy vines.
Why is this? it’s safer for sloths to remain motionless and camouflaged off the ground
Sloths munch on leaves, twigs and buds. Because the animals don’t have incisors, they trim down leaves by smacking their firm lips together. A low metabolic rate means sloths can survive on relatively little food; it takes days for them to process what other animals can digest in a matter of hours.
Why are sloths slow? Sloths have an extremely low metabolic rate, which means they move at a languid, sluggish pace through the trees. On average, sloths travel 41 yards per day—less than half the length of a football field! hey creep at such a slow pace that algae grows on their fur. This green algae, known as Trichophilus, grows only on the fur of sloths, and this actually helps sloths camouflage.
Sleep: Sloths snooze for about 15 hours per day. That leaves only nine hours to lumber through the trees. They maintain a low body temperature of about 86°F-93°F and move in and out of shade to regulate their body temperature. In summary, a sloth’s life revolves around sleeping and eating in its tree homes.
Sloths may be slow climbers, but they are speedy swimmers. They’re naturally buoyant and, like humans, sloths can do the breaststroke with ease. Because sloths inhabit rainforests prone to seasonal flooding, the ability to swim is essential to their survival. Swimming also offers sloths a means of covering more ground in less time when searching for a mate or scoping out new territory.
Female sloths give birth to one baby a year after a gestation period of six months. The baby sticks with the mother for about six months, grasping its mom’s belly as she moves through the trees.
This is an important bonding period that helps the offspring learn and develop. When the sloth leaves its mom after about six months, it adopts part of its mother’s range, continuing to communicate with the parent through calls.
Gestation can take anywhere from five to six months, as it does for the pale-throated sloth (Bradypus tridactylus), to 11.5 months, as it does for the Hoffman’s two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni). All female sloths have only one baby at a time.
After they are born, the babies aren’t in a hurry to leave their mother. They cling to their mother’s belly until they are able to feed themselves, which can take anywhere from five weeks to six months, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Even after they stop dangling from their mother, little sloths stay by their mother’s side for two to four years, depending on their species.
Sloth importance to environment
Sloths are integral components of the Amazon rainforest. They foster a symbiotic relationship with a species of algae found only on sloths and nowhere else
Evolution & Life span
Ancient sloths could grow to be as large as an elephant. They roamed North America and became extinct around 10,000 years ago. Ancestors of the sloth lived in North America.
Sloths have an average life span of 20 to 30 years in the wild, but captive sloths tend to live a bit longer.
The pgymy three-toed sloth is critically endangered.The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) is one of the world’s most endangered mammals, according to a detailed survey of the population, which found less than 100 sloths hanging on in their island home.
Make a donation
You can help us to conserve these incredible animals by donating whatever you can – every single dollar counts! With your help, we passionately believe that we can make a positive impact to the conservation of sloths throughout Central and South America.The Sloth Conservation Foundation
The health of sloth populations is wholly dependent on the health of tropical rain forests. But tropical rain forests are at risk of deforestation.
The high prices that these animals command in cities or high-income countries have stimulated the illegal market for sloths in vulnerable communities, where a single baby sloth can go for represent much more money than weekly or monthly salaries earned by those living in rural communities. The animals are offered on roads and squares and even on request.
Important factors when looking at the Best Places to see Sloths.
In the wild, sloths typically live quiet, sleepy lives. When used as props for tourist photos, they are constantly surrounded by noise and poorly handled by both guides and tourists alike.
Research shows that sloths are frequently held by their claws or arms with no support at all, causing them to experience high levels of fear and stress.
When you are travelling, take pictures of sloths and other wild animals when they are in their natural habitat. Say no to anyone who offers you to hold a sloth for a picture. An important point for Best Places to see Sloths.
Best Places to see Sloths
Tortuguero National Park is perhaps the world’s most likely place to spot a sloth in the wild.
Where to see sloths in sanctuaries
The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica is the original rescue center for injured, orphaned and abandoned sloths. The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica was officially authorized as a rescue center in 1997. The mission of the Sloth Sanctuary is the rescue, rehabilitation, research and, when possible, release of sloths and educating people about conserving the rainforest, the sloths’ natural habitat.
Sustainable Sloth Tourism
Tourists frequently encounter sloths that are low down or crawling across the ground between trees, and in excitement (or perhaps in an attempt to get the perfect selfie) they often crowd the animal, make a lot of noise and even reach out to touch the fur.
In high tourist areas sloths are also commonly exhibited by the side of the road, with unsuspecting tourists being charged to take a photo with the animal. In reality, these sloths have been pulled from the trees, often the mother will be killed, and the baby used as a photo prop until it dies (or someone pays to rescue it). The sloth is then replaced in a vicious money-making cycle.
Summary on Best Places to see Sloths
Sloths have evolved into the adorable animals that the world has grown to love over thousands of years. The slowest animals in the world, they are unique to their environments and also very vunerable to the threats posed on their habitats.
Although it is very possible to cuddle these cuties, we recommend only visiting ethical tourism that does not affect the wellness of sloths involved. It is important to do your own research before supporting advertized sloth encounters.
If you loved learning about sloths in the wild, you can have a look at other animals in the Amazon! Let us know which of these animals you have seen or wish to see in the future!