KINGDOM: Animalia (Animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (Possessing a notochord)
CLASS: Mammalia (Mammals)
ORDER: Pilosa (Placental mammals)
FAMILY: Megalonychidae (Sloths)
SUB-FAMILY: Choloepodinae (Two-toed sloths)
GENUS: Choloepus (Two-toed sloths)
SPECIES: Choloepus didactylus (Linne’s two-toed sloth)
Linne’s two-toed sloths are endemic to Central and South America. They can be found through Venezuela and the Guianas, south into Brazil and west into the upper Amazon Basin of Ecuador and Peru.
These sloths are roughly about the same size and shape of a small dog. They are covered in long hair that curves from the stomach to the back (this is contrary to most mammals). The hair is a brownish grey colour. Linne’s two-toed sloths have four legs of equal length with two claws on each. They have a short neck with a flat short head and the eyes and nose are large.
Linne’s two-toed sloths prefer staying high in the canopy of the tropical rain forests, where they are safest from predators.
These sloths are mostly herbivores (plant eaters). They will eat berries, leaves, shoots, fruits, nuts, bark, buds, some native flowers, small twigs, fruits and insects. They don’t have inscisor teeth, only simple molars, so their lips have adapted, being hard enough to shear and crop leaves.
These sloths are mostly solitary in nature, although groups of females may occupy the same tree. They don’t construct nests. Most of their lives are spent hanging upside down from trees, eating, sleeping, mating, and even giving birth in an upside down position, but they descend to the ground level to defecate. They have a home range of approximately 10 acres.
Linne’s two-toed sloths are polygynandrous (meaning both males and females have multiple mates). Females seem to initiate mating and breeding occurs throughout the year. After a gestation period of about six months, a single offspring is born. The female gives birth upside down or on the ground, and the baby will make its way to her chest to nurse, where it will cling for about 5 weeks.
Baby sloths are weaned at about one month old, and will start feeding away from their mother at about 5 months. Linne’s two-toed sloths are sexually mature at 2-5 years old. They can live up to 30-40 years old.
Because they are usually found high in the canopy, motionless and virtually invisible, they don’t have many predators. They may sometimes be taken by jaguars and ocelot, birds of prey and anacondas. Predation mainly occurs when the sloth descends to the ground in order to defecate or change trees.
The biggest threat faced by Linne’s two-toed sloth is habitat loss due to ranching, agriculture, urban expansion and logging.
Did you know?
- Algae grows on their hair, which helps camouflage them
- Sloths move extremely slowly, and have been called the slowest animal on earth
- Although these sloths are very clumsy on land, they are excellent swimmers!
- Because of their slow metabolism, sloths only defecate and urinate once a week
- They can bite and will defend themselves by slashing with the foreclaws
- Two-toed sloths are also mostly silent, but can let out hisses and low cries or moans if distressed