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