All about The Maned Sloth (Bradypus Torquatus)

illustration of the maned sloth

Would you like to learn about the Maned Sloth, also known as the Ai? You’ve come to the right place. Read on for all the Maned Sloth facts you can handle.

Where does the Maned Sloth live?

The Maned Sloth is only found on the South-eastern coast of Brazil. It hangs out in the rainforest there, and loves a good humid climate without a dry season.

What does the Maned Sloth look like?

Maned sloths have a short black and white undercoat, covered with longer, pale brown to gray hair (about 15cm long). There’s usually a greenish tinge to their hair, thanks to the algae that lives in their coat.

Their eyes are usually covered by a black mask, and as it’s name suggests, it has a black mane of hair running down its back and over its shoulders.

Males generally have a darker mane than females. Sometimes the girls just have a couple of long tufts. Males might use their handsome manes to attract the ladies.In fact, mane size and darkness may indicate the health and vitality of the male Maned Sloth.

Because the Maned Sloth spends most of its life hanging upside down, its fur grows in the opposite direction of most mammals which means its hair hangs down when the sloth is in its favorite upside down position.

Like all three-toed sloths, the Maned Sloth has 8 or 9 neck vertebrae (most mammals have 7). This means their necks can rotate 270 degrees, which makes finding tender juicy young leaves to eat a lot easier.

The extra couple of neck bones also helps them to keep their nose above water when they take a dip.

They may have extra vertebrae, but they have no canines or incisors! What they have instead is a set of cheek teeth which they use to shear and mash those tasty leaves.

Maned Sloths have three fingers and toes, and use their long claws to hook themselves to the branches.

How big is the Maned Sloth?

Maned sloths are the biggest of the three toed sloths.

Grown male Maned Sloths are about 55 to 72cm long.

They have a tail that’s about 5cm and weigh between 4 to 7.5kgs.

Females are a bit bigger – up to 75cm long and 10kgs in weight.

What do Maned Sloths do all day (and night)?

Maned sloths like to hang out alone, and sleep most of the day (60-80% of it). They are active during both day and night, in an effort to avoid predators like harpy eagles and pumas, leopards and jaguars.

In their waking hours they eat. And move around a bit. They’ve been reported to have a home range of about 0.5 to 6 hectares (or 1.2 to 14.8 acres).

They travel up in the trees as much as possible, as on the ground they are only able to drag themselves along, which isn’t a very effective or enjoyable mode of travel.

About once a week, like all sloths, they have to take a trip down to the ground to visit the lavatory.

What does the Maned Sloth eat?

They are pretty picky – eating only the leaves of trees and vines (although they generally prefer tree leaves to vine leaves).

Each Maned Sloth is a unique individual, of course, and so may have a particular preference as to which species of tree it likes to munch on. As a whole species, however, they are able to adapt to quite a range of trees.

Maned Sloth Lifecycle

As to be expected, Maned Sloths mate up in the trees.

The gestation period is about 6 months.

They have their babies at the beginning of the year (between February and April), which is the period at the end of the rainy season and beginning of the dry season. This is the time of year that the weather is most favorable and food is most plentiful.

Newborn Maned sloth babies weigh about 300 grams and they don’t have a cool mane yet.

Babies start eating solid foods when they’re 2 weeks old, and are weaned between 2 to 4 months as breastfeeding takes a pretty big toll on poor old Mama Maned Sloth.

They move out of home between the ages of 9 and 11 months.

Maned Sloths are fully grown between about 1 and 3 years.

It is not known for sure, but the Maned Sloth’s lifespan is thought to be about 12 years.

Are Maned Sloths endangered?

The Maned Sloth population has declined over the years, in correlation with the destruction of forests.

The area of Brazil that Maned Sloths live has the highest human population in Brazil and this puts a lot of pressure on the sloth’s habitat – the rainforest.

Deforestation due to things like charcoal production and cattle farming is their major threat, but hunting of sloths is another reason the Maned Sloth has reached vulnerable status on the IUCN Red List. They are now protected, but have not yet recovered their numbers from excess hunting for meat in the past.

Maned Sloth Vulnerable

Would you like to help the Maned Sloth? Check out this list of 5 things you can do.

Sloth Species: What are the different types of sloths?

Are there different species of sloths?

How many types are there?

What do people mean when they talk about species of sloths – do they mean the two and three fingered types?

Let’s have a closer look at the relationship between the different sloth species to get a better understanding of our two and three fingered friends.

Biological classification chartSloths and Evolution

You might be quite surprised to learn that two toed sloths are actually not all that closely related to three toed sloths. In fact, they’re about as closely related as you and I are to baboons.

The last time two toed and three toed sloths shared a common ground dwelling ancestor was about 30 million years ago (about the same time that us human types split from our baboon relations (although perhaps it doesn’t feel like it at some Christmas get togethers?)

It is thought that three toed sloths were the first to climb up into the trees to get a good view. The two toed sloth made its tree-change millions of years later!

What this means is that they’ve been evolving separately, although quite similarly, for all that time. This is called convergent evolution and is of quite a lot of interest to some scientists. The different number of fingers, and some differences in the way their muscles connect to their bones, is the giveaway that they are actually quite distant relatives who have each found their own special ways to live in the trees.

What’s pretty weird though, is that they both climb down from the trees, putting their lives at risk, to poop (and do the subsequent poop dance) once a week. This peculiar habit has evolved not just once, but twice. Holy sloth dung, that’s pretty amazing!

Order

So, two-toed sloths are quite distant relatives of three-toed sloths. If you have a look at the chart above, they both belong in the same order (four categories from the bottom).

The order is called Pilosa and it is one the smallest orders in the mammal class. It consists of just two suborders:

  • Folivora – sloths
  • Vermilingua – anteaters and armadillos

Fun fact – Folivora means ‘leaf eater’ and Pilosa means ‘hairy’.

Family and Genus

Moving down the rung of the biological classification chart we come to Family. Here’s where sloths get split up into five different groups. What’s terrible, though, is that three of the families are extinct. So that leaves us with two:

  • Bradypodidae – Three toed sloths are the only members of this family (and genus Bradypus)
  • Megalonychidae – This family gets split into two genus:
    • Megalonyx – an extinct genus of ground sloths.
    • Choloepus – Two toed sloths

Species

Finally we get to answer your question about how many species of sloth there are!

The two different existing sloth genus, Bradypus and Choloepus, are each split into different species.

Bradypus (Three Toed Sloth)

There are four species of three toed sloths:

  • Brown Throated Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)
  • Pale Throated Sloth (Bradypus tridactylus)
  • Maned Sloth (Bradypus torquatus)
  • Pygmy Three Toed Sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus)

Choloepus (Two Toed Sloth)

There are two species of two toed sloths:

  • Linnaeus’s Two Toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus)
  • Hoffmann’s Two Toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni)

So there you have it! If you’d like to read more about each species of sloth, then follow the links on each species name.

 

Sloth cuddling with its mom
Photo by Eric Kilby 

Differences between Two Toed and Three Toed Sloths

Clearly – a major difference is that two toed sloths have two toes, and three toed sloths have three. But it’s important to note that we are only actually talking about their ‘fingers’ here. Both types of sloth have three claws on their hind legs. This is the reason that you’ll notice people starting to refer to them as Three Fingered and Two Fingered Sloths.

Another significant difference is that two toed sloths have 5 or 6 vertebrae in their necks. Most mammals have 7. Three toed sloths have 9! This makes them able to turn their head 270 degrees, which comes in very handy when they go for a swim as they are able to keep their head out of the water easily.

Three toed sloths have small tails, but their two fingered friends have no tail at all.

Two toed sloths are larger. They’re generally 58-70 cm long and weigh 4-8 kgs. Three toed sloths are only about 45 cm long and weigh 3.5-4.5 kg.

Two toed sloths are mostly nocturnal. Three toeds are diurnal (which means they’re active in the daytime).

References

National Geographic

Two toed sloth -Wikipedia

Three toed sloth – Wikipedia

Sloths in the wild: Where do sloths live?

You’re planning your next world wide trip and want to make sure you stop in at the right places so that you can visit all the
sloths. Or maybe your friend said to you today, hey friend – where can sloths be found? and you were embarrassed to admit that you didn’t know the answer. Well, we’re glad you are here because we are on a mission to answer the very important where do sloths live question for you.

As you know (or if you don’t, it’s ok – don’t panic, you can read all about it here), there are different types of sloths in the world. So lets talk about where each type of sloth lives in the wild.

Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth

If you want to visit the Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) (also known as the monk sloth or dwarf sloth) then you’ll need to book yourself a ticket to Isla Escudo de Veraguas. This is a Carribean island of the Republic of Panama which is only 4.3 square kms (1.7 sq mi). Once you’re there, find your way to the red mangroves. Hopefully then, with quite a lot of luck, you’ll find one of the remaining Pygmy Three-Toed Sloths in the world. In 2012 it was estimated that only 79 existed. This means, of course, that they are critically endangered.

Map of the areas that pygmy three toed sloths live
Photo credit

Brown-Throated Sloth

The Brown-Throated Sloth  (Bradypus variegatus) is a three-toed friend who prefers to hang out in the neotropical ecozone of Central and South America.

The most common and widespread of the three-toed sloths, it can be found in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil and eastern Peru. People have thought they’ve seen Brown-Throated Sloths north of the Amazon Rainforest and east of the Rio Negro – but most likely those poor sods had them confused with the Pale-Throated Sloths (they do look very similar, we can’t blame them too much).

Covering such a large area, it’s not too suprising that the Brown-Throated Sloth can be found in lots of different environments. Dry forests, evergreen ones – even natural areas that have been messed with by humans. 1200m (3,900ft) is about as high above sea level as they’ll get, but some adventurous individuals have been found up even higher.

Map of where Brown Throated Three Toed Sloths live
Photo credit

Maned Three-Toed Sloth

In the 1950s,The Maned Three-Toed Sloth (Bradypus torquatus) could be found in the Bahia coastal forests of Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo. Now, thanks to deforestation and hunting, they can only be found in the Atlantic coastal rainforest of southeastern Brazil.

Maned Three-Toed Sloths like it wet. They live in areas with no dry seasons, and annual rainfall of at least 120cm. However, as they don’t mind munching on quite a range of leaves, they can also be found in semi-deciduous and secondary forest.

Area map of Maned Sloth
Photo credit

Pale-Throated Sloth

The Pale-Throated Sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) lives in tropical rainforests in northern South America. More specifically, have a look for them in Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil (north of the Amazon River), Guyana and western parts of Colombia and Venezuela.

Pale Throated Sloth Area Map
Photo credit

Linnaeus Two-Toed Sloth

The Linnaeus or Linne’s Two-Toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus) live in the tropical rainforests of Colombia, Guyanas, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil (north of the Amazon River). It is possible that they also live in parts of Bolivia. If you see some on your travels there, please be sure to let us know.

Map showing where Linne's Two Toed Sloth live
Photo credit

Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth

The Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) live in tropical rainforests ranging from sea level up to about 10,800 ft, or 3.3km, above sea level. They are actually separated into two different areas of Central and South America, divided by the Andes. One group can be found ranging from western Ecuador up to eastern Honduras. The other group inhabits the areas of western Brazil, eastern Peru and northern Bolivia. I wonder if they have different accents.

Hoffmans Two Toed Sloth Area Map
Photo credit