Three-toed Sloths of Costa Rica
The tree climbing Three-toed Sloth of the forests of Costa Rica is about the size of a small dog, and spends much of its life unconscious and wrapped in vines.
The Three-toed Sloth covers a range that extends from parts of southern Mexico into northern regions of South America. Three-toed Sloths inhabit lowland tropical rainforest. In Costa Rica they can be seen in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Peñas Blancas National Park, Corcovado National Park, Children’s Eternal Rainforest and La Selva Biological Station.
Mating & Reproduction
Three-toed Sloths breed throughout the year. Females in heat (estrus) will scream out in the forest canopy to attract a suitor. Males exclude competing males from their area, and they mate with as many females as inhabit their range.
Gestation can last up to seven months, and the young feed on their mother’s milk for the first few days. They cling to their mother’s stomach during the early stages of their life. At around four days old, the infant sloth will begin licking the somewhat chewed leaves from their mother’s mouth. This helps them to identify edible food sources.
The major source of the Three-toed Sloth’s diet is foliage. They have specialized teeth and three stomachs to accommodate their diet. Three-toed Sloths are active at day or night, but they spend the majority of their time sleeping. They sleep from fifteen to eighteen hours a day.
Unlike the Two-toed Sloth, Three-toed Sloths are good swimmers. They don’t often leave the trees which offer them their food sources, however. They come down from the forest canopy every eight days or so to defecate in the soil.
Three-toed Sloths are unique among mammals in that they possess nine cervical vertebrae. Almost all other mammals only possess seven cervical vertebrae.
The Brown Throated Three-toed Sloth is a very common Three-toed Sloth in Costa Rica.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Peñas Blancas National Park, Corcovado National Park, Children’s Eternal Rainforest, La Selva Biological Station
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: lowland tropical rainforest
Size: length=45 cm weight=3.5-4.5 kg tail=6-7 cm
Species: Bradypus tridactylus, Bradypus variegatus