- choloepus hoffmanni
hoffmanni often referred to as Hoffman's Two-Toed
Sloth is one of the world's most unique
small mammals. Present day Sloth ancestors can be traced back
to about 60 million years ago when there were both tree and
ground Sloths. Some species of the now extinct giant Ground
Sloth were as large as an elephant. All modern day living Sloths
are Two-Toed Sloth or Three-Toed
Sloths and classified as tree
sloths. During the Ice Age, Giant Ground Sloths moved into
North America from its origin in South America followed by
their close relatives, the Armadillos which were probably the
ultimate ancestor of the Sloth. Sloths are also related to
anteaters in a group of mammals known as edentates.
Sloths do have cheek teeth but are lacking incisors and canines
also make use of their hard lips to help tear at foraged food.
TO SEE ANIMAL WEBCAMS
Should you decide
to go on a wild animal safari, you will have to look high up
in the treetop canopy cover to observe a sloth in the wild.
Sloths are famous for their ability to live and perform almost
all basic life functions while hanging upside down suspended
in mid-air! In fact, Sloths eat, sleep, mate and actually
give birth while in this upside down position. They
have spent so much time "hanging around" many of their internal
organs (liver, stomach, spleen & pancreas) have actually
been repositioned. The Two-Toed Sloth has only six cervical
vertebrae and a more limited range of movement than the Three-Toed
Sloth. The Two-Toed Sloth has the lowest and most variable
body temperature of any mammal ranging from a low of 24°C
to a high of 33°C (74°F - 92°F) and also the lowest
muscle mass relative to overall body weight of any mammal.
Geographic range for the 5 remaining
species of tree Sloths are the neotropical forests of Central
America, the northern
regions of South America, particularly in the Amazon Rainforest
basin of Central Brazil and in Peru. Sloths are excellent living
examples of evolutionary adaptation by a species to the canopy
of the forest. In the constant jungle warfare between prey and
predator, Sloths have succeeded through adaptations which enable
them to survive as leaf-eaters, or folivores, existing primarily
on a steady diet of tree leaves although this species will also
consume animal matter such as bird eggs, nestlings, lizards,
insects and carrion. A high ingestion of tree leaves that are
coarse, full of cellulose and protected by toxic chemicals produced
by trees to ward off predators takes quite a bit of time for
the Sloth to digest. The Sloths have an extremely slow metabolic
digestion rate of this fibrous diet descending only once every
5-7 days to urinate and defecate. Time spent on the ground is
very short. Ground time is used sparingly either for personal
hygiene or used to switch trees to obtain a new aerial food source.
Sloths cannot walk upright but rather have to drag and pull themselves
along with their claws and forearms. Sloths surprisingly are
very good swimmers moving through the waterways or to navigate
flood waters by using a "breast-stroke" type movement.
Like the Three-Toed
Sloth they are medium
sized animals typically achieving weights of between 9-20 lbs.
with body length anywhere
from 21-29 inches. Sloths are the slowest animal in the world!
A far comparison from our Cheetah, known as the "fastest
animal in the world" even if only for short sprinting distances.
Sloths are so slow moving that algae actually grows on them.
Sloths fur is tan to greyish brown in color, shaggy with a coarse
outer fur grading to softer, finer layers of underfur. Sloths
spend so much time upside down they are the only mammal whose
fur is parted running belly to back to allow water to run off
quickly during rainstorms. Their fur is specially designed to
allow algae to colonize within the shaft giving them a symbiotic
relationship with the algae as the Sloths can even absorb these
airborne nutrients through their skin. The algae also gives the
Sloths' coat an overall greenish-blue hue that provides excellent
camouflage against the jungle canopy.
- Two-Toed Sloth >>