Maned Sloth, Bradypus torquatus

The maned sloth or ai (Bradypus torquatus) is a species of three-toed sloth that can only be found in southeastern Brazil, in the Atlantic coastal rainforest. It prefers to live in humid habitats like evergreen forests, but has been found in secondary and semi-deciduous forests. The average rainfall in areas where this species can be found reaches forty-seven inches per year.

The maned sloth varies in size depending upon the sex, with males reaching an average body length between twenty-two and twenty-eight inches and a weight of up to sixteen pounds and females reaching a length between twenty-two and thirty inches and a weight of up to twenty-two pounds. The soft undercoat of this species is black and white in color, while the coarse guard hairs are brown to grey in color. As is typical to sloths, the guard hairs of this species support a variety of algae, mites, moths, beetles, and ticks. It was named for the mane of dark fur that extends from its neck along its shoulders, which is darker in males.

The maned sloth is active during the day, and like other sloths, will spend up to eighteen hours per day sleeping. It sleeps in tree crevices or by hanging onto branches using its claws to cling onto them. Members of this species hold home ranges of up to fifteen acres and tend to consume liana leaves from in the Cecropia genus, although they will consume other leaf types. Some studies have shown that this sloth can breed throughout the year, but its peak birthing season occurs between the months February and April. Young are born with lighter fur than the fur of adults and will begin consuming solid food at only two weeks of age. They are weaned at two to four months of age and will venture out on their own at up to eleven months of age. Although extensive studies regarding its lifespan have not been conducted, it has been recorded to live for at least twelve years in some areas.

The range of the maned sloth was limited to three areas in Brazil in 1955 and it has since then been reduced and fragmented. The major forms of habitat loss that have affected this species including logging and forest clearing for agricultural purposes. This species is also threatened by hunting. The maned sloth currently appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservations status of “Vulnerable.”

Image Caption: Maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus) in its natural habitat, Santa Maria de Jetibá, ES, Brazil. Credit: Paulo B. Chaves/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)