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Animal Facts Sloth



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Sloth's a member of the Megalonychidae or Choloepidae family depending on the species are found in South and Central America were they spend most of there lives hanging and walking upside down from the branches of trees. They will let out a cry or hissing sound at times. The sloth can be either the true two-toed Unau (Choloepus didactylus), Hoffman's Two-toed (choloepus hoffmanni); the three-toed sloth can be the true three-toed sloth or ai (bradypus tridactylus), Brown throated three-toed sloth (Bradypus variegates) and the Maned Sloth (Bradypus torquatus) belonging to the Bradypodidae family. Sloth's have an ancestor that lived before the last ice age and reached the size of an elephant known as the Giant Ground Sloth.

The Sloth bear will get to be five to six feet long and reach a height of two to three feet at its shoulders. The weight is form 120 to 310 pounds with the females being smaller than the males.

TWO-TOED SLOTH
The two- toed sloth has six or seven vertebrae. They do not have tails and the front and back legs are nearly the same size. The neck of the two-toed sloth is shorter than that of the three-toed sloth and they have larger eyes. This species of sloth moves between trees more than the other species of sloth. (It has two toes on its front limbs from which the name comes).

THREE-TOED SLOTH
The three-toed sloth of course has three toes on its front limb. It also has nine vertebrae and a small tail. The front limbs are a lot bigger than the rear limbs. Their neck is longer and eyes are smaller.

APPEARANCE
Sloths have long gray or brown colored hair that blends easily into the environment which makes it difficult for predators to find them. The hair of the sloth curves from the stomach to the back; this is a different direction from most other animals. Blue green algae normally cover the sloth's coat during the rainy season; it provides them with camouflage as well. The sloth will become one and a half to two and a half feet long in around two and a half years.

DIET
Both species of sloth will eat leaves and buds. The two-toed sloth eats twigs, fruit, and small prey as well. The low metabolism allows the sloth to live off of very little food. Since they do not have incisors they use their lips to get the leaves. Since the teeth are constantly being worn down they are also constantly growing. Sloth's get their necessary water from eating juicy leaves and licking dewdrops since they do not drink.

PREDATORS
The Sloth defends themselves from predators with its sharp claws and camouflage. The predators of the sloth other than people are large snakes, harpy and other birds. The jaguar and the ocelot present a danger to sloth's that are on the ground. Even though this species moves slowly when on the ground they swim very well.

REPRODUCTION
The gestation period of the sloth is about six months long. When they are born they are around ten inches long and only weigh twelve ounces. The baby sloth will cling to its mother until it is about the age of five weeks old. The sloth will mate and give birth upside down.

LIFESPAN
The believed maximum lifespan of a sloth in the wild is from thirty to forty years. This is the believed life span because there have been sloth's in zoos that lived this long. The species is listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union's Red List of Threatened Animals.

Sources:
http://www.wildlifesearch.com/sloth.htm
http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Set/1478/sloth.html
http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Set/1478/classify.html
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/AsiaTrail/SlothBears/factsheet.cfm

More about this author: Laurie Childree

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