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Best Places to see Sloths

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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, and are among the many animals that call South America home. 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, and are often considered to be some fo the cutest wild animls. 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…

Key points

TopicKey Points
Types of Sloths– Two main species: Two-toed Sloths and Three-toed Sloths.
– Two-toed sloths are slightly bigger and spend more time hanging upside-down.
– Three-toed sloths have facial coloring that makes them look like they’re always smiling and have extra neck vertebrae.
Best Places to see Sloths– Tortuguero National Park is a highly likely place to spot sloths in the wild.
– Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica is a rescue center that provides care and rehabilitation for injured, orphaned, and abandoned sloths.
– Emphasizes the importance of sustainable sloth tourism and avoiding exploitative practices.
Distribution & Habitat– Sloths are found in Central America and northern South America, including parts of Brazil and Peru.
– They live high in the trees of tropical rainforests and spend most of their time curled up or hanging upside down from branches.
Diet– Sloths primarily eat leaves, twigs, and buds.
– Their low metabolic rate allows them to survive on relatively little food.
Nature/Behavior– They travel at a sluggish pace, averaging 41 yards per day.
– Algae grows on their fur, aiding in camouflage.
– Sloths sleep for about 15 hours per day and have a low body temperature.
– They are capable swimmers and use swimming as a means of covering more ground.
Motherhood– Female sloths give birth to one baby per year after a gestation period of six months.
– The baby clings to the mother’s belly for about six months and learns from her.
– Sloths maintain communication with their parents even after leaving their side.
Sloth Importance to Environment– Sloths are integral components of the Amazon rainforest.
Evolution & Life Span– Ancient sloths could grow as large as an elephant and roamed North America.
– Sloths have an average life span of 20 to 30 years in the wild, but captive sloths tend to live longer.
Conservation– The pygmy three-toed sloth is critically endangered.
– Illegal trade of sloths is a threat, driven by high prices in urban areas.
– Conservation efforts and donations are crucial for protecting sloths and their habitats.
Unsustainable Tourism– Unsustainable tourism practices, such as using sloths as props for photos, cause stress and fear in sloths.
– Sloths should be observed in their natural habitat, and holding them for photos should be avoided.
– Ethical and responsible tourism is emphasized.
Summary of Best Places to see Sloths– Sloths have evolved unique characteristics over thousands of years.
– It is important to support ethical tourism and avoid exploitative encounters with sloths.
– Tortuguero National Park and Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica are mentioned as recommended places to see sloths.
Threats– Sloth populations are dependent on the health of tropical rainforests.
– Deforestation poses a significant threat to sloths and their habitats.

Best Places to see Sloths

YouTube video

Tortuguero National Park is perhaps the world’s most likely place to spot a sloth in the wild.

Where to see sloths in sanctuaries

Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica

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.

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.

#1 Two-toed Sloths

sloths in the wild
Two-Toed Sloth.

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.

#2 Three-toed Sloths

Best Places to see Sloths trees
Sloth hanging from a tree in Costa Rica

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

sloths in the wild


StatisticTwo-toed SlothsThree-toed Sloths
Number of ClawsTwoThree
SizeSlightly biggerSmaller
Hanging PreferenceHang horizontally from branchesOften sit upright in trees
Facial ColoringSmiling appearance
Extra Neck VertebraeNoYes
Average Weight (kg)4.5 – 102.2 – 6.5
Average Length (cm)55 – 7542 – 80
Gestation Period (days)150152 – 243
Sleeping Hours (per day)15 – 18
Primary HabitatCentral and South AmericaCentral and South America
Primary DietLeaves, twigs, budsLeaves, twigs, buds
Metabolic RateLowLow
Swimming AbilityYesYes
Conservation StatusNot specifiedNot specified
StatisticBrown-throated SlothManed SlothPale-throated Sloth
Speed0.27 km/h0.24 km/h0.24 km/h
Daily Sleep15-18 hours15-18 hours15-18 hours
Scientific NameBradypus variegatusBradypus torquatusBradypus tridactylus
Mass2.2-6.3 kg4.5-10 kg3.8-6.5 kg
Gestation Period152-243 days150 days183 days
Length42-80 cm55-75 cm50-75 cm
DistributionCentral and South AmericaCentral and South AmericaCentral and South America
HabitatTropical rainforestsTropical rainforestsTropical rainforests

Distribution & Habitat

sloths in the wild

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.

Nature/ Behaviour

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 Trichophilusgrows 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.


Best Places to see Sloths tree

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 pygmy 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. You can read more about South America’s most endangered animals in one of our other articles.

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.

Unsustainable tourism

sloths in the wild

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.

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 of Best Places to see Sloths

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!

Explore South America’s Diversity by reading our article on all its animals.

Become more involved by learning about 21 Most Endangered Animals In North America and 10 Most Endangered Animals in South America

If you are looking for something new and fresh, Watch a Chimpanzee throw a Water Bottle at Zoo Visitor!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are sloths?
A: Sloths are arboreal mammals known for their slow movement and low metabolic rate. They belong to the order Pilosa and are primarily found in the rainforests of Central and South America.

Q: Why are they called “two-toed” and “three-toed” sloths?
A: The terms “two-toed” and “three-toed” sloths refer to the number of toes on their front limbs. Both types of sloths actually have three toes on their hind limbs. The difference lies in the front limbs, where two-toed sloths have two long, curved claws, while three-toed sloths have three claws.

Q: What do sloths eat?
A: Sloths are herbivorous animals and primarily feed on leaves. Their diet consists mainly of the leaves from a variety of trees, and they have specialized teeth for grinding and chewing tough vegetation.

Q: Why are sloths so slow?
A: Sloths have a slow metabolic rate and move slowly due to their specialized adaptations. Their low-energy diet and slow digestion help them conserve energy. Moving slowly also helps them avoid detection by predators, as their greenish fur blends in with the surrounding foliage.

Q: How long do sloths sleep?
A: Sloths are known for their extended periods of sleep. They can sleep anywhere from 10 to 20 hours a day, depending on the species. Their slow metabolism and low-energy diet contribute to their need for extensive rest.

Q: Do sloths come down from trees?
A: Sloths are highly adapted for an arboreal lifestyle and spend the majority of their lives in trees. They are excellent climbers and have long, curved claws that allow them to hang upside down and move through the branches with ease. However, they do come down to the ground occasionally, typically once a week, to defecate and urinate.

Q: Are sloths endangered?
A: Some species of sloths are considered threatened or endangered. Habitat loss due to deforestation, as well as the illegal pet trade, are among the main factors contributing to their declining populations. Conservation efforts are in place to protect sloths and their habitats.

Q: Can sloths swim?
A: Sloths are capable swimmers and can move through water using a doggy paddle-like motion. They can also hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. Swimming is an important skill for sloths, as it allows them to cross rivers and navigate through their habitat.

Q: Do sloths make good pets?
A: Sloths are wild animals and are not suitable as pets. They have specific dietary and environmental requirements that are difficult to meet in a domestic setting. Additionally, owning a sloth may be illegal in many jurisdictions due to their protected status and conservation concerns.

Q: Are sloths related to monkeys?
A: Sloths are not closely related to monkeys. They belong to a different order called Pilosa, while monkeys belong to the order Primates. Sloths share a distant common ancestor with anteaters and armadillos, and they have evolved unique adaptations for their tree-dwelling lifestyle.

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