Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth
The Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth, Choloepus hoffmanni, is a species of sloth from Central and South America. It is a solitary nocturnal and tree living animal, found in mature and secondary rainforests. It is also found in evergreen forests. With their shaggy fur, huge claws, and deliberate movements, Two-toed sloths are unlikely to be confused with any other animal. At 12 to 15 pounds and about two feet in length, these nocturnal animals are the perfect size for moving about in the treetops.
Hoffmann’s Two-toed sloths are found in the rainforest canopy in Central and South America. They range from Nicaragua, south to Bolivia, and from Peru east to Brazil.
Two-toed sloths spend most of their time in trees, though they may travel on the ground to move to a new tree. They are excellent swimmers. They are strictly nocturnal, moving slowly through the canopy after dark, munching on leaves. The name “sloth” means “lazy,” but the slow movements of this animal are actually an adaptation for surviving on a low-energy diet of leaves. Sloths have very poor eyesight and hearing. They rely almost entirely on their senses of touch and smell to find food.
Two-toed sloths spend their whole life upside down. They hang from tree branches, suspended by their huge, hook-like claws. Nearly everything a sloth does, including eating, sleeping, mating, and giving birth, is done while it is upside down in the trees. The only time that sloths are normally found right side up is when they go down to the ground to defecate. They only do about once every 5 days.
Sloths have many predators, including jaguars, eagles, and large snakes. If threatened, sloths can defend themselves by slashing out at a predator with their huge claws. Also, they can bite predators with their sharp cheek teeth. However, a sloth’s main defense is to avoid being attacked in the first place. The sloth’s slow, deliberate movements and algae-covered fur, make them difficult for predators to spot from a distance. Their treetop home is also out of reach for many larger predators. Their long, coarse fur also protects them from sun and rain.
Female sloths may live in groups, while male sloths are usually solitary. In the wild, there are about 11 times more female two-toed sloths than male Two-toed sloths. Female two-toed sloths give birth to a single offspring after an 11.5 month gestation period. The pup will nurse for at least 9 months, and may remain near its mother for more than 2 years. Two-toed sloths reach maturity at 4 to 5 years old.
Though Two-toed sloths may occasionally eat fruits and flowers. Almost, all of their diet is composed of tree leaves. Like the unrelated artiodactyls, sloths have a multi-chambered stomach filled with symbiotic bacteria. This helps them digest the cellulose in their fiber-rich diet. It may take a sloth up to a month to completely digest a meal, and up to two thirds of a sloth’s weight may be due to the leaves in its digestive system.
Habitat destruction is probably causing a decrease in the wild Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth population. There is little reliable data on the number of wild individuals. Sloths and people have little contact with one another in the wild.