Wild Times Archive

Two-toed Sloth

When it comes to being sluggish, sloths win the prize! They are the slowest mammals in the world, traveling on average 37 metres (41 yards) a day! In fact, they are so sedentary that green algae grows on their fur, a handy camouflage from predators in its Central and South American rainforest home.

Their extremely low metabolic rate allows them to survive on relatively little food that takes days, rather than hours, to digest. Sloths spend their lives hanging in the trees, foraging for food and sleeping 15 to 20 hours per day. They even mate and give birth in the tree canopy.

Two-toed sloths have a pair of long claws on each front foot, while three-toed sloths have an extra digit to grasp the trees. They have a powerful grip but are good swimmers should they slip from the trees into a river below.

Deforestation is the biggest threat facing the six species of sloths, as they depend on the trees for food and shelter. Our two-toed sloths, Luna and BB Cop, are part of the Species Survival Plan at the Edmonton Valley Zoo.

Two-toed sloths are larger than their three-toed counterparts, with a body length of 58-70 cm (23 to 28 in), and weighing 4-8 kg (8.8 to 17.6 lbs)

Central and South America

Leaves, twigs, fruit, nuts, and bark

They are strictly arboreal, pulling hand-over-hand to move around. Sloths cannot walk but they are good swimmers. Males are shy and solitary but females will sometimes form small groups.

Mothers give birth to a single young after a gestation period of five to six months. The infant is fully furred and clings to its mother’s belly for the first 4 weeks.

12-years-old in the wild and up to 32 years in captivity


 A sloth’s natural enemies include jaguars and eagles.
Deforestation is also considered a threat.

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