Sloths in Manuel Antonio are easy to see and some of the most popular animals to photograph! Three-toed and two-toed sloths are cute and slow, and somehow they are smiling at us. Let us share here some of the interesting, cute, funny, and unique things you may not know about sloths.
1) There are two types of sloth:
Costa Rica, and Manuel Antonio, have one of each!
Brown-throated three-toed sloth and Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth.
The number of long, curved claws on the forelimbs is a reliable indicator of the sloth’s genus.
While the three-toed sloth has three claws on all four limbs, the two-toed sloth only has two on its front limbs (hence the name).
Sloths with two digits instead of three belong to a different taxonomic family and are slightly larger than three-toed sloths.
The American continent is home to six different sloth species, all of which can be found in the continent’s tropical rainforests.
- Two-toed sloth (Hoffman’s) (Choloepus hoffmanni)
- Two-toed sloth, after Linnaeus (Choloepus didactylus)
- Squirmy little pygmy sloth with only three toes (Bradypus pygmaeus)
- Triskate sloth with a man’s touch (Bradypus torquatus)
- Hoofed mammal with a brownish throat (Bradypus variegatus)
- Apathetic sluggard with a pale throat (Bradypus tridactylus)
EVERYTHING, STARTING WITH DIGESTION, IS MODERATELY SLOW.
The leaves, fruits, and sap of various trees make up the bulk of a sloth’s diet. In order to break down tough, fibrous leaves, they have a large, efficient stomach with multiple chambers. When the sloth’s stomach is full, which it often is because leaves make up as much as 37% of its body mass, it stops eating until there is room for more food. Because digestion can take days or even weeks, sloths must limit their daily intake.
3. The majority of their existence is spent dangling from tree branches.
Each and every living sloth today is a tree-dwelling, suspensory mammal that spends the vast majority of its time either hanging motionless or slowly gliding between branches with the help of its long, curved claws. The trees are used for every aspect of life, from eating and sleeping to mating and giving birth. But even sloths have to leave the safety of the trees and come down to the ground sometimes.
4. THEY ARE EXTREMELY DISCERNING ABOUT WHERE THEY GO TO THE BATHROOM
Defecation is a necessary part of life, and sloths are no exception; they typically do it once a week. While it may seem more convenient to defecate while upside down, sloths are notoriously picky about their personal hygiene. To relieve themselves on the forest floor, sloths are known to make the long and arduous journey from the tree canopy to the bottom of the same tree.
When driving around it is important that you acknowledge that sloths in Manuel Antonio come down from their trees and sometimes go across the roads and streets in town. Please drive carefully and if you find one help other drivers to get it safely to where it’s going.
5. SLOTHS ARE EXCEPTIONAL SWIMMERS.
Sloths’ long clawed arms and shorter, weaker hind legs make it impossible for them to stand on all fours, making life on the ground challenging. But they swim with surprising strength.
While looking for mates or exploring new territory, certain sloth species that live near mangroves or rivers will occasionally jump into the water and swim long distances (in a short amount of time).
6. THE SLOW PACE AIDS THEM TO SURVIVE IN THE WILD.
Yes, sloths are incredibly sedentary animals that spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping and 15 hours a day eating. This may seem odd, but there’s a good explanation for it: it’s a proven method of staying alive.
Sloths make up for their leaf-based diet’s lack of calories by living a sedentary, low-energy lifestyle. The longevity of the sloth, which dates back 65.5 million years (long before the extinction of the dinosaurs), demonstrates that taking things slowly can be advantageous in the wild.
7. GIANT SLOTHS ARE THE NOWADAYS SLOTHS’ ANCESTOR
Megafauna that specialized in eating tough, fibrous leaves is the sloth’s distant ancestors.
Both extinct and living sloth species benefited (had less competition) from this, as they were able to thrive in both terrestrial and marine environments. Fossil evidence and genetic analyses suggest that the three-toed sloth is related to extinct species of giant ground sloths that roamed Central and South America around 10,000 years ago and reached sizes comparable to elephants and ponies.
Thalassocnus, another extinct ground sloth genus, lived along the western coasts of South America and specialized in eating seagrass.
8. SLOTHS ARE A MICROHABITAT FOR MANY SPECIES.
A wide variety of organisms, from bacteria and fungi to insects and algae, call the sloth’s hair home. Some moth species, like the Cryptoses Choloepi Dyar, depend almost entirely on sloths for their entire life cycle. Female moths lay their eggs in sloth dung when the sloth reaches the forest floor to defecate. Adult moths emerge from the dung, fly to the sloth’s fur in the canopy, and the cycle repeats.
Similarly, sloths have a unique symbiotic relationship with green algae to increase their nutrient intake. Since the sloth’s fur is so good at absorbing and retaining water, the green algae receive protection and sustenance in exchange. The fur covered in algae is thought to serve as camouflage, helping the animal to hide from predators.
Sloths are prey to a variety of predators, including harpy eagles, ocelots, and jaguars, all of which rely primarily on a motion to locate their prey. Sloths are nearly impossible to spot in the wild due to their motionless hanging and fur covered in algae.
THE LONGEST LIFESPAN OF ANY SLOTH SPECIES KNOWN TO SCIENCE IS 43 YEARS.
A two-toed sloth can live for up to 20 years, on average. Since few studies have been conducted in their natural habitats, it is challenging to accurately estimate the average lifespan among sloth species.
The SLOTH IS EXTREMELY SENSITIVE TO DEFORESTATION.
The majority of sloths are classified as “least concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. However, illegal wildlife trade and the destruction of habitats pose continuing dangers.
As a result of deforestation and degradation of their habitat, some subpopulations are currently on the decline. This is especially true in Colombia and Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. These mammalian tree-dwellers rely on thriving tropical rainforests for their survival. So, the slow but steady sloth may become an endangered species as tree cutting reduces the size of the rainforest and its home.
Top 10 facts about Sloths. (2016). WWF. https://www.wwf.org.uk/learn/fascinating-facts/sloth