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Three-Toed Sloth - bradypus variegatus

By: C.M.Shorter
Three-Toed Sloth Picture
Three-Toed Sloth
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The Three-Toed Sloth, one of three surviving species of Sloths in the family Bradypodidae, are the slowest moving mammals in the world. All three Sloth species are believed to be descendents of true "Tree-Dwelling" Sloths and considered more common than their arboreal relatives, the Two-Toed Sloth. Easy to distinguish in appearance by the shape and coloring of their faces, Three-Toed Sloths have an orbital shaped face with suborbital stripes extending horizontally which outline the ocular area of the face. These facial markings make it appear almost as if Three-Toed Sloths are smiling all the time. Also, the Three-Toed Sloth has a nose that is slightly smaller than that of the Two-Toed Sloth whose snout has an almost "pig-like" appearance and forearms that are substantially longer. Both species have long hook-like claws on both their forefeet and hind feet, move at an exceptionally slow pace and spend most of their lives hanging upside down! All Sloths have three toes, even Two-Toed Sloths! However, they have only 2 front claws whereas the Three-Toed Sloth has 3 of these long, hook-shaped claws.

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Sloths are found in the same biological family as Armadillos and Anteaters in a group of animals known as edentates (toothless mammals). Sloths do have cheek teeth but are lacking incisors and canines and they also make use of their very hard lips to help tear up foraged food. Like the Two-Toed Sloth they are medium sized animals typically achieving weights of between 9-20 lbs. with body length anywhere from 21-29 inches. Another anatomical differences between the two Sloth species is Three-Toed Sloths have short stubby tails and nine vertebrae.

We have had the privilege to work with Sloths first-hand. Otter John, who many of you may know through our TigerHomes DVD Educational Series, now has resident Sloths at his first-class exotic animal facility, Wild Florida Production Company. John has worked with everything from Leopards, Tigers, Cougars, Lynx, Bobcats, Monkeys, Lemurs, Otters, Raccoons, Coatis, Kinkajous, Bats, Spiders, Scorpions, Crocodiles, Alligators, Caimans, Cobras, Vipers, Iguanas, Tortoises, Parrots, Hawks, Eagles, Falcons, Owls and Crocodile Monitors but is known to be partial to Otters - hence his name "Otter John".

Continue >> Sloth Anatomy, Behavior & Diet

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