Brown-throated sloth

Cute but lazy species harmlessly sleep in the trees for 14 to 16 hours a day

Henry Alien

Adorned with a dense brown coat, these creatures often host algae within their fur, which lends them a greenish hue. This natural camouflage plays a crucial role in their survival, allowing them to blend seamlessly with the verdant foliage of the rainforest canopy and evade the notice of predators.

Each limb of the Brown-throated sloth is equipped with three distinctive claws, a characteristic feature that aids in their expert navigation through the treetops. Beyond their clawed appendages, these sloths possess a remarkably unique vertebral arrangement, granting them the ability to rotate their heads up to 270 degrees.

After giving birth, a mother sloth takes immediate action to ensure her infant’s safety by pulling the newborn between her hind legs, a behavior that prevents the vulnerable infant from falling. Remarkably, other sloths may assist the mother and her baby, helping to clean them—a rare example of social cooperation among these typically solitary animals. Unlike the females, male Brown-throated sloths do not participate in the upbringing of their offspring. The responsibility of teaching the young sloths the essential skills for survival, including foraging and navigating the forest canopy, falls solely to the females.

Brown-throated sloths exhibit two distinct sleeping behaviors, which further underscore their unique adaptation to their environment. The “awake-alert” state involves the sloth keeping its eyes open and blinking, while in “behavioral sleep,” the sloth closes its eyes but remains hanging from the tree. These behaviors likely serve to conserve energy while maintaining some level of alertness to potential threats.

Despite their reputation for being lethargic or “lazy,” Brown-throated sloths undertake the necessary, albeit infrequent, journey to the forest floor to urinate, a behavior that remains a curious aspect of their biology. This descent exposes them to increased risks from predators, suggesting that the behavior has significant underlying benefits, possibly related to scent marking or digestive health.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Argentina
2022
Possibly Extinct: Jujuy
Bolivia
2022
Brazil
2022
Colombia
2022
Costa Rica
2022
Ecuador
2022
Honduras
2022
Nicaragua
2022
Panama
2022
Peru
2022
Venezuela
2022

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No

Brown-throated sloth on banknotes

Costa Rica 10,000 Colones (2009-2014)

Costa Rica 10,000 Colones (2019)