Pale-throated three-toed sloth
A slow-moving animal that hangs upside-down from tree branches in the forests of South America, eating leaves.
12 years (up to 31 in captivity).
56-60cm long with a short 6-7cm tail, and weighing 3.5-4.5kg.
One of three species of three-toed sloth, this is an almost tailless animal that hangs upside-down from branches by all four limbs with long curved claws. There are three claws on both front and hind feet. The head is rounded, with a flattened face and tiny, invisible ears. The hair is coarse and shaggy and greyish with a green tinge caused by algae growing on the outer guard hairs. There are dark rings around the eyes and paler fur on the forehead and throat.
From Honduras south to Northern Argentina.
Tropical and montane forest.
Sloths are slow-moving solitary animals, which live their lives in the canopy of the forest. Their difficult cellulose-rich diet means that they need complex stomachs to help digest it, and they also have very low metabolic rates and reduced muscles to exist on a low-energy diet. They only descend the trees once a week to urinate and defecate, and communicate through scent.
Pale-throated three-toed sloths probably breed all year round, although with a peak after the rainy season. A single youngster is born in the canopy, after a gestation period of 6 months, and is helped to a teat by the mother. The youngster is weaned at 1 month, but is carried by the mother until it is 6-9 months old, feeding on leaves within reach from this position. The youngster inherits the mother's taste for particular tree species, allowing several sloths to cohabit in a territory if they specialise in different species. The youngster also inherits part of the mother's home range. Sexual maturity is reached after several years.
They produce shrill whistles, and youngsters also bleat if separated from their mother.