Documenting nature in the Amazon through photographs and sketches

Three-toed sloth Bradypus sp.

Since I’ve moved to the tropics, I’ve learned that there are two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths. I just recently found out that they each belong to a separate family, Megalonychidae (two-toed sloths) and Bradypodidae (three-toed sloths) and they are not closely related.

Sloths are arboreal mammals, the live up in the trees and their limbs are adpated to hang from trunks and branches where they sleep or rest for about 20 hours a day.  I find it very interesting that they have to go down from the trees to poo about once a week.  It’s also quite interesting that they have algae living on their fur.

There are four species within Bradypus, two of which can be found in this area, Bradypus tridactylus (pale-throated sloth) and Bradypus variegatus (brown-throated sloth).  The pale-throated sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) has a more resticted range east of the Andes and south of the Orinoco River, occuring in the Guyana Shield region including northern Brazil south to the Rio Negro-Rio Solimoes region (where Manaus is located).  The brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus), on the other hand, can be found all the way from Honduras to northern Argentina.

A week ago, we went for a walk at Bosque da Ciencia, and we saw a sloth eating young leaves up on a tree.  I’m still not sure which species we saw, the pale-throated sloth or the brown-thrated sloth.  Can you help me identify it?

Bradypus  three-toed sloth

Bosque da Ciencia, INPA, Manaus

Bradypus three-toed sloth

Bosque da Ciencia, INPA, Manaus

Bradypus three-toed sloth

Bosque da Ciencia, INPA, Manaus

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