Sloth: characteristics, curiosities and images

Sloth: characteristics and curiosities about the slow-footed animal

The sloth, belonging to genere Bradypus, is a very particular animal, famous for its slow gait. The word sloth derives from the Greek and means “Slow foot”. But don’t trade hers slowness out of laziness: it is an adaptive and defensive mechanism.

That said, let’s get to know the sloth better by going to see the main ones features, how it reproduces, what he eats, where he lives and some little curiosities.

Scientific classification of the sloth

Source: Pixabay

This is the scientific classification:

  • Dominio: Eukaryota
  • Kingdom: Animals
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Pilosa
  • Suborder: Folivora
  • Family: Bradypodidae
  • Genere: Bradypus

Difference between three-toed sloth and educational sloth

Of the Bradypodidae family and Bradypus genus the three-toed sloths belong, the ones we will learn more about shortly. Of the family Choloepididae and of the genus Choloepus the educational sloths belong instead. Currently only two species survive educational sloth: Linnaeus’ didyle sloth (Choloepus didactylus) and Hoffmann’s didyl sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni).

These two species feed on fruit, leaves and berries. Also in this case we have a very slow metabolism: digestion can last up to a month. Like the tridactyl, even the didyle is unable to regulate body temperature. The pregnancy lasts 10 months: the female gives birth upside down and the baby sloth is born with claws.

How many types of sloths are there?

snout sloth
Source: Pixabay

There are four three-toed sloth species:

Bradypus pygmaeus

The bradipo pigmeo, discovered on Escudo de Veraguas Island in Panama, is the smallest type of sloth. It weighs half the size of the rest and lives in coastal mangrove forests. There are few specimens of this species.

Hooded sloth (Bradypus torquatus)

The hood sloth lives in rainforest trees in Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo and Bahia. It measures up to 50cm and weighs up to 5kg. It has a small head, ears are practically absent and the tail is very short. The fur is coarse and thick: often inside it is found algae, beetles, ticks, mites and moths.

Around the muzzle, neck and shoulders the fur has a darker color, while the rest of the body is greyish. Excellent swimming, on the ground it is very slow and drags with its front legs.

It tends to come down from trees only to defecate or to move from tree to tree. It is one of the most endangered animal species.

Bradipo tridattilo (Bradypus tridactylus)

The three-toed sloth it lives in the rainforests of Central America, from Brazil to northern Argentina. It is considered to be the slowest mammal on earth.

The nose is black and snub, the external ears very small and the tail very short. The fur is rough and thick, grayish in color. However, thanks to a symbiotic alga it often takes on a greenish color. Males differ from females because they have a yellow or orange pattern in the center of the back.

The front legs are twice as long as the hind legs and they all have three claws curved, with longer central nail. Although they are not aggressive animals, in case of danger they know how to defend themselves with these nails. They are also used for climbing and clinging to trees.

Can sleeping upside down. Another peculiarity is that the neck has 9 vertebrae, as also happens to the manatee (all other mammals in the neck have 7 vertebrae). It is 60-75cm long and weighs 15-20 kg.

It feeds on the leaves, flowers and buds of Cecropia. The pregnancy lasts six months. Only one puppy is born from it and is weaned after one month.

Variegated sloth (Bradypus variegatus)

The variegated sloth lives in the forests of Central and South America. It is the most common species and lives in the widest range: you find it both in rainforests and in coniferous forests and in public gardens.

Sedentary and solitary animal, it usually never leaves the tree on which it was born.

Where does he live?

L’habitat of sloths is representing from the southern part of Central America and the northern part of South America, with particular reference to Brazil and Argentina.

They not only live on Cecropia trees, but also on several other types of trees. Except, since these shrubs are very common in Brazil, it is easier to see a sloth on them.

Characteristics of the sloth and hints of biology

sloth sleeps
Source: Pixabay

The size and the coat color of sloths they vary somewhat depending on the species, as we have seen above. In general the fur tends to be greyish, but since it hosts several small algae, here it sometimes takes on one greenish hue. Another peculiarity of the coat is that inside, in addition to algae, we also find many insects.

Famous for its slowness on land, in the water the sloth proves to be a skilled swimmer. Males tend to live their entire lives in a single tree, while females move from tree to tree once their pup reaches sexual maturity. In fact, they leave their old tree to the offspring and look for a new one.

Not being able to thermoregulate its body temperature, it needs to live in environments with a constant temperature of 22 degrees.


Sloths are animals with a very solitary life. In practice, they go down to the ground only to defecate and urinate. So it is in these spaces that they can meet other specimens of their own species.

The reproductive period in theory lasts all year, but mating usually takes place between March and April. Mating takes place on the ground and the males do not collaborate in the growth of the young.

The duration of pregnancy is about six months old: usually only one puppy is born. At birth it weighs 300-500 grams. Sloth cubs do not literally stray from their mother for six months, clinging to her fur. However, they are weaned as early as one month old.

When he is six months old, the mother gives the tree to her son. Sexual maturity reaches 3-4 years.

Diet and nutrition

sloth food
Source: Pixabay

Come feeding, sloths they have one diet extremely poor: they eat mainly fruit, leaves and vegetables. They tend not to drink water because they derive hydration from the fruits and vegetables they consume.

Curiosities about the sloth

Flash sloth
Fonte: YouTube

Here are some small ones curiosity about the sloth:

  • How fast is a sloth? The speed of the sloth is 250 meters per hour. In reality there are also other values ​​on the net. For comparison, if the sloth goes at 0.24 km / h or 0.067 m / s, then the snail goes at 0.05 km / h or 0.013 m / s
  • The sloth is not slow because it is lazy, but simply because by doing so it makes itself noticed as little as possible by predators and also to save energy. Feeding on leaves ingests few calories
  • the sloth nails vary according to the species. I am 3-4 cm to 7 cm long
  • The sloth has 200 beats per minute
  • If you are wondering how often do sloths poopwell, the sloth defecates once a week
  • The sloth sleeps from 16 to 19 hours per day
  • The average life span of a sloth is 11-12 years old
  • In the animated film series The ice Age one of the protagonists is the Bradipo Sid
  • In the animated film Zootropolis of Disney one of the secondary characters that gave birth to very popular memes online is the Flash sloth who works on the engine at a slow pace to say the least (even if he drives at full speed). The original voice is by Raymond S. Persi

No, you can’t adopt a sloth

How much does a baby sloth cost? Well, consider that it is a wild animal, not suitable for domestic life and certainly not suitable for living in our climates.

In addition, the pygmy sloth and the variegatus sloth are found in Annex B of European regulations, while the Choloepus hoffmannii is in Annex C (in general, Annexes A, B and C correspond to Appendices I, II and III of the CITES, but also contain some species not present in the CITES).

It must be considered that the various Regulations on the trade in wild animals and plants EU not only apply the restrictions of the appendices of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), but sometimes apply even stricter import conditions.

For example, import licenses are required for both Annex A and Annex B species. Furthermore, some species found in Appendix I of CITES are found in Annex A of EU regulations and therefore cannot be imported. in Europe, not even to be marketed.

The specimens of Annexes A and B can only be imported if the recipient is equipped to host these species.

Source: GreenStyle by

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