Brown-Throated Sloth (Bradypus Variegatus), Hoffmann's Two-Toed Sloth (Choloepus Hoffmanni)
Sloths are a group of arboreal Neotropical xenarthran mammals, constituting the suborder Folivora. Noted for their slowness of movement, they spend most of their lives hanging upside down in the trees of the tropical rainforests of South America and Central America. They are considered to be most closely related to anteaters.
There are six sloth species in two genera – Bradypus (three–toed sloths) and Choloepus (two–toed sloths).
Sloths are so named because of their very low metabolism and deliberate movements. Sloth, related to slow, literally means "laziness," and their common names in several other languages (e.g. French paresseux) also mean "lazy" or similar. Their slowness permits their low-energy diet of leaves and avoids detection by predatory hawks and cats that hunt by sight. Sloths are almost helpless on the ground, but are able to swim.
The shaggy coat has grooved hair that is host to symbiotic green algae which camouflage the animal in the trees and provide it nutrients. The algae also nourish sloth moths, some species of which exist solely on sloths.
Why They Matter
Sloths are an integral part of tropical rain forest ecosystems and the health of sloth populations is wholly dependent on the health of tropical rain forests. But tropical rain forests are at risk of deforestation. Without an abundance of trees, sloths will lose their shelter and food source. When sloths come to the forest floor—which they do once a week to relieve themselves—they are more exposed to predators and can do little to fend them off.
Two of the six species of sloths rate high on the IUCN Red List of endangered animals. The pygmy three-toed sloth is "Critically Endangered" and the maned three-toed sloth is considered "Vulnerable". Pygmy sloths only live in Escudo de Veraguas Island in Panama, and as of the last official IUCN assessment in 2013, there are believed to be less than a 100 pygmy sloths left in the world. The population of the maned sloth, which is mostly native to Brazil, is slowly decreasing
The other four species, while currently considered of "Least Concern", still face threats and population decline.