In total there are 6 species of sloths. These are split into two groups: the two-toed sloths and the three-toed sloths.
There are two species of two-toed sloths and there are four species of three-toed sloths.
There used to be more species of sloths, but they’ve become extinct either through natural causes or mankind destroying their environment.
Two-toed sloths are mostly nocturnal creatures, where as three-toed sloths are mostly diurnal.
A few of these remaining species are extremely close to extinction and if we don’t do something soon we may very well lose them good. They’re becoming extinct from the destruction of their natural habitat.
You already know how slow sloths are, they need time to thrive. The rate at which their environment is being destroyed is too fast for the sloths to keep up! They are trying their best, bless them. But the only way we can save them is by preserving the rain forests.
Even the sloths that aren’t close to being endangered or extinct are declining rapidly because of humans destruction of their environment.
It’s not all bad though, there are countless volunteers out there trying their best to keep these little guys going. Remarkable people are putting up a fight for the sloths.
When us humans leave them be they are excellent at surviving, in fact for the 4 species that aren’t endangered or critically endangered in their environment they are actually doing the best out of the other creatures they share their environment with.
In other words, sloths are the the pinnacle of evolution and they are designed to thrive in their environments. Humans just had to get involved and ruin everything. Spoil sports.
Two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths are also different from many other mammals because of their neck bones. Most mammals have 7 neck bones (vertebrae). The two-toed sloth has 6 neck bones (the same as manatees) and the three-toed sloth has 9 neck bones.
The more neck bones a mammal has, the more they can rotate their neck. In fact, three-toed sloths can actually turn their head 270 degrees whereas a two-toed sloth is stick at a measly 90 degrees!
You can find an absolute boat load of facts on our sloth facts page, all you’ve got to do is: Click Here!
Now lets take a detailed look into each individual species of sloth:
The Linne’s two-toed sloth can be found in 8 different countries and lives in the wet tropical rain forests. This species is doing very well for itself and isn’t close to being endangered. These sloths hang very high up in the canopies so they are perfectly camouflaged from human hunters and ground predators.
The Linne’s sloth has a very bizarre female to male ratio. In the wild, if you spot a Linne’s sloth by itself there is an extremely high chance it will be a male. If you find a group of Linne’s sloths they will all be female.
The reason for this is the males are horribly outnumbered. There are 11 females to every 1 male sloth. With odds like that it’s no wonder they don’t live in harmony. There would be sloth cat fights every single day trying to get the male sloth!
Unfortunately this means male sloths have very solitary lives, when these sloths mate it lasts about 10 seconds (I know right) and then they’ll both crawl off in opposite directions never to be seen again.
The Linne’s sloth can’t produce much of a smile because it only have a few teeth. You’ll find four to fives sets in the Linne’s sloths mouth and they are canines and incisors. There teeth are completely different to ours, they don’t have enamel like us. Lucky sloths.
Instead their teeth actually grow back! There are two ever growing layers of dentin that keep their teeth fresh and full. Jealous much?
The Hoffmann’s sloth can be found in multiple countries and at the moment they can be found easily because they are quite abundant. The Hoffmann’s sloth is however slowly declining in numbers because of the destruction of their habitat and their value on the exotic pet trade.
They aren’t hard to catch either because they’ll just wander onto farmland. They do put up more of a fight than three-toed sloths though.
The Hoffmann’s sloth also suffers from the crazy female to male ratio. The males are forced to live alone while the females form groups. To top all this outnumbering off, the females are generally larger than the male sloths… These poor guys can’t catch a break.
You probably already know by now that the two-toed sloths diet consists of mostly tree leaves. But if they spot some wild fruits and flowers they won’t hesitate to gobble it up.
There teeth are perfectly designed to tear off leaves and chewing all day isn’t a problem since their teeth grow back.
Two-toed sloths have really unusual stomachs compared to other mammals… Instead of one big compartment like us, it’s actually split into 3 separate compartments.
You’ve got the first two compartments that hold symbiotic bacteria which helps them digest all the leaves and plants they munch on. Finally you’ve got the last compartment which does what ordinary stomachs do and just digests everything fully. Ultimately turning into poop.
This process actually takes incredibly long compared to us humans. It takes nearly a full month for the digestive process to be complete. If they ate a leaf today it wouldn’t come out of them for a full 30 days…
Since it takes so long for sloths to digest their meals, two thirds of their body weight will actually be leaves in their digestive system! Imagine crawling around being that full all day.
These sloths also hang up high in the rain forest canopies just like the Linne’s sloth. Why fight when you can simply hide and eat leaves as slow as you want?
Differences Between Two-Toed Linne’s Sloth and Two-Toed Hoffmann’s Sloth
Surprisingly there aren’t that many differences between these sloth species. They are both two-toed, they both use camouflage and height advantages to stay clear of predators, and they both have messed up gender ratios.
Aside from living in different countries, the main differences between each species is mostly physical. If both species were next to each other it would be very hard to tell them apart. There are tiny, subtle changes in their skeletal features. That’s about it.
The only change you need to know is each species of two-toed sloth has a slightly different skull shape compared to the other one.
The Hoffman’s sloth has started to be born with less and less neck bones compared to the Linne’s sloth which make it easy to turn its neck. This is also very evident when you take a look at three-toed sloths…
The maned sloth is very vulnerable to extinction. This is because they can only be found in the wet forests of South Eastern Brazil so they have a very small area that is getting destroyed even further.
These sloths used to be found much further north, but they haven’t been spotted there in a while. They are assumed extinct in the northern parts of Brazil.
The maned sloths favourite place to hang out is the evergreen forests, but it can be found in all types of different trees. Some times they just want to spice things up a bit, you know?
They hang around (pun intended) in these forests because they are hot, humid, and they pour it down with rain. These tropical conditions are perfect for sloths to thrive in.
The maned sloths fur is a light brown to grey colour and they can be distinguished clearly by the circle of long dark hair around their neck.
That circle of long dark hair around their neck is what gives them their unique name. It’s like a mane of a lion… only on the more powerful sloth!
The males usually have the much thicker and darker mane, while the females is some times barely visible.
Despite the males having the more dominating mane, the females are actually larger than the males. Think of the mane as a stylish hair do that attracts the girl sloths.
Their course outer coat of fur is riddled with all sorts of algae, bugs, mites, ticks, beetles, and moths. They have an ecosystem living on them, that’s how slow and uneventful their life is.
Their eyes, as you can see in the picture below, are surrounded by dark fur that spreads onto their cheeks.
Compared to other mammals, sloths are extremely light. That is how they’re able to dangle off thin branches all day. Other mammal of similar sizes actually have over four times as much muscle mass!
The maned sloth has a very luxurious life. Literally all they do is eat, sleep and travel to the next branch. Once a week they’ll make their way to the ground for a toilet break, but that’s about it.
The Brown-Throated Sloth / The Bolivian Sloth
The brown-throated sloth can actually be found in many different countries. You’d think it would only be found in Bolivia given its other nick name.
This species is doing fine because of all the territories it can be found in. Some individual groups are getting wiped out due to the destruction of their habitat though.
Brown-throated sloths are found in the neotropical ecozone, which means you can find them scattered in forests through out South and Central America.
Male and female brown-throated sloths are roughly the same size, which makes them different to the maned sloth.
It’s hard to see, but brown-throated sloths do have a cute little tail hiding in all that fur.
Their teeth are very simple, they have no incisors or canines. All they’ve got is peg-shaped teeth at the front with a few on the side.
Chewing leaves all day is a nightmare for teeth like ours and they wouldn’t last too long. We’d spend half our time in the dentist!
What makes sloths unique is their teeth are made of enamel that actually grows back, just like how our finger nails grow back.
Brown-throated sloths are also born without gall bladders and appendixes.
The fur of the brown-throated sloth is a greyish-brown to beige colour. They also have darker brown patches on their eyes, which spread down their cheeks and forehead.
Then we have their throat, which you guessed it, is covered in dark brown fur. They weren’t very creative when they came up with the name of this sloth species.
These sloths share some of their territory with the Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth. Both species of sloth look quite similar, but the way you can tell them apart is the size of the sloth, the abundance, and their overall alertness.
The two-toed hoffmann’s sloth is much larger than the three-toed brown-throated sloth. This is simply because two-toed sloths are always larger.
Brown-throated sloths are much more abundant in the wild, so you are much more likely to see one than a Hoffman’s sloth.
Brown-throated sloths are much more active compared to the Hoffman’s sloth. They spend more of the day travelling and moving around. They are also awake during the day a lot more than two-toed sloths, as they are diurnal.
Brown-throated sloths are quite territorial, males have been observed fighting each other using their claws. It’s like the worlds slowest boxing match… You’d think with all those trees they’d just get along.
The pale-throated sloth inhabits the tropical rain forests of South America. More specifically, they hang out in the northern regions.
These sloths are commonly mixed up with the brown-throated sloth and rightly so. They both look very a like and that’s because they share the same territory.
You can tell the difference between both these sloths by, you gussed it, looking at their necks! The clue was in the name really. The pale-throated sloths have a pale yellow spot on their throat.
The brown-throated sloth is much more abundant than the pale-throated sloth and has a much wider distribution.
The pale-throated sloth has a small rounded head, with a blunt not and a pair of little ears tucked away in all that fur.
Most of the fur on their body is a blackish-gray color, with a darker patch of black on their back, hips, and shoulders.
You can tell the difference between male and female pale-throated sloths by looking at their backs. The male pale-throated sloths have a bright yellow / orange patch on their back which has a central black stripe running through it.
Female pale-throated sloths are the power houses of this species. They are bigger, stronger and more durable than male pale-throated sloths.
Like most of the other sloths, the pale-throated sloth only has a few teeth and they grow back in layers. Just like how are fingernails grow back over time.
If the sloths had teeth like ours they wouldn’t last very long tearing through those thick leaves all day.
They have a long and heavy pink tongue which stands out when they open their mouth because their inner mouth is lined with a black mucus. It’s basically black covered saliva.
The pale-throated sloth has a few predators, the worst being harpy eagles and humans. But Jaguars, anacondas and margays (a small cute version of a jaguar) wont hesitate to snatch one up if they’re in a vulnerable spot.
Despite their appearance, they actually have a really bizarre call. They produce a bird like whistle that makes an ‘ai ai’ sound.
Going back to their fur, I’m sure you already know about all the nasty insects that live in the sloths fur. Sloths actually move so slow that a green algae is able to grow on their fur.
When pale-throated sloths mate, they have two positions. Some times the male will go on the females back, and other times they will do it face to face, all romantic like.
The female sloth takes 6 months to produce a baby sloth. Baby sloths are born with all their fur, but it will be a lighter shade compared to the adult sloths.
Baby sloths latch onto the mother sloth for the first month of their life and they begin to take in solid food after three weeks. After a whole month the baby sloth will be fully weaned.
After three years, baby sloths reach sexual maturity and can produce baby sloths of their own. The circle of sloth… I mean life.
The pygmy sloth (other names are the monk sloth, the dwarf sloth, and the “Omg that’s the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen” sloth) can only be found on a small island off the coast of Panama, called Isla Escudo de Veraguas.
These sloths are critically endangered and are very close to extinction. The small island that they inhabit is actually a giant nature deserve, despite this it is still being destroyed.
They are also hunted for their fur and captured by poachers to sell as exotic pets. Life’s tough for a pygmy sloth. There’s an estimated 80 of these sloths left in the wild.
The pygmy sloth is the smallest out of all six sloth species, hence the name. While it is much smaller, it actually looks like a miniaturized brown-throated sloth.
These sloths are related closely to the brown-throated sloth. The pygmy sloths over time became an independant species through insular dwarfism.
If we left the pygmy sloths as they were right now, they would continue to shrink in size. You read that right. They could get even cuter, if we let them!
Not only can these sloths only be found on one specific island, they can only be found on one specific tree, the red mangroves.
They spend their whole life in these mangroves and the only food they will eat is the mangrove leaves… Unless a juicy insect is dumb enough to get caught by the sloth.
The red mangrove leaves are very tough to eat and they don’t have much nutrition in them at all. It’s a good job these little pygmy sloths have a perfectly designed stomach and mouth to break them down.
Like all the other sloths, their fur is covered with an algae because they move so slow. They have a miniature ecosystem living on them.
A miniature ecosystem living on a miniature sloth… SLOTHCEPTION. It doesn’t make sense I just wanted to say slothception.
I wish I could tell you how these little guys reproduce, but nobody has witnessed them getting down and dirty in the wild. Maybe one day!
Differences Between Two-Toed Sloths and Three-Toed Sloths
Two-toed sloths are the big daddies of the sloth family tree. They are much larger than three-toed sloths and all of their features are in general bigger and better. They have bigger eyes, longer hair and their back and front legs are more equal in length.
Side by side the two-toed sloths have longer arms (including their sharp claws), but if you scaled the two-toed sloth down to the size of a three-toed sloth, the three-toed sloth would have the longer arms.
Three-toed sloths do get the last laugh in the end though because they have the longer tail! Yes, you read that right. Sloths do actually have tails. They’re not very long mind you, but three-toed sloths beat two-toed sloths!