What Do Sloths Eat?

What do sloths eat?
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What Do Sloths Eat? Sloths are arboreal creatures commonly found in South and Central America. Sloths are considered as the slowest mammals, and this is attributed to their meager metabolic rates.

Sloths mostly feed on buds, leaves, and tender shoots. Some sloth species can also consume a vast range of insects, nestling, bird eggs, lizards, and carrion.

Table of Contents

What Do Sloths Eat?

Type of Sloth Binomial Name Diet
Maned Three-toed Sloth Bradypus torquatus Leaves, some soft twigs, and buds.
Pygmy Three-toed Sloth Bradypus pygmaeus Folivore diet (leaves obtained from different kinds of trees).
Hoffmanns Two-toed Sloth Choloepus hoffmann Leaves, insects, bird eggs, lizards, and bird nestlings.
Linnaeus Two-toed Sloth Choloepus didactylus Leaves, twigs, buds, fruits, flowers, and insects.

Sloths Diet by Types

Only 6 species of sloths exist, and these are categorized into two types, three-toed and two-toed types. This section will look at a sample of the sloth species and their habitats.

What Do Maned Three-toed Sloths Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Pilosa Bradypodidae Bradypus Bradypus torquatus
What do maned three-toed sloths eat?
Source: Wikimedia

The maned three-toed sloth feeds on leaves, some soft twigs and buds.

  • The maned three-toed sloth gets its name from its long mane, which is mostly made up of black hair.
  • This species is considered to be the most threatened of all the sloth species thanks to its habitat being fragmented.
  • The maned three-toed sloth covers a small habitat area, which is the coastal rainforest.

What Do Pygmy Three-toed Sloths Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Pilosa Bradypodidae Bradypus Bradypus pygmaeus

What do pygmy three-toed sloths eat?

The pygmy three-toed sloth is a strict folivore feeds on leaves obtained from different kinds of trees within their habitats.

  • The pygmy three-toed sloth is the smallest of all sloth species, as its name suggests.
  • This species has been classified as being critically endangered .
  • The pygmy three-toed sloth inhabits dense tropical rainforests.

What Do Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloths Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Pilosa Megalonychidae Choloepus Choloepus hoffmanni

What do Hoffmanns two-toed sloths eat?

The Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth is primarily a herbivore, feeding mostly on leaves. In other scenarios, this sloth may feed on animal matter drawn from insects, bird eggs, lizards, and bird nestlings.

  • The Hoffmann’s two-toed sloths vary in lengths of between 21 and 29 inches.
  • The average weight of this species of sloth ranges between 9 and 20 pounds.
  • This species mostly inhabits canopy forests in tropical rainforests.

What Do Linnaeus Two-toed Sloths Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Pilosa Megalonychidae Choloepus Choloepus didactylus
What do Linnaeaus two-toed sloths eat?
Photo Source: Wikimedia

The Linnaeus two-toed sloth commonly feeds on leaves, twigs, buds, fruits, and flowers. The Linnaeus two-toed sloth may occasionally consume insects.

  • The Linnaeus two-toed sloth is also referred to as the Southern two-toed sloth.
  • They have two claws at the end of their limbs hence their name.
  • These sloths are large compared to other sloth types, and they can grow to lengths of 67 cm.
  • They also have vestigial tails. This sloth species commonly inhabits tropical and subtropical forests.

How Do Sloths Hunt?

Omnivorous sloth species occasionally hunt small organisms to supplement their plant diet.

  • These organisms can find their food using their sense of scent, which is facilitated by their highly developed olfactory bulbs.

When Do Sloths Eat?

Two-toed sloths are nocturnal.

When do sloths eat?

  • These organisms will tend to sleep for 15 hours during the day and wake up at night to feed.
  • Three-toed sloths, on the other hand, are mostly diurnal, meaning they are active during daylight hours.
  • As such, they can be found feeding during the day.

How Much Does A Sloth Eat?

As sloths tend to eat very slowly, an adult Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth consumes about 0.35 kg a day.

Do Sloths Eat Meat?

Yes. Sloths are natural herbivores. However, Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth (a type of sloth) feeds on bird eggs, lizards, and bird nestlings.

How Often Do Sloths Eat?

Sloths can sleep for close to 18 hours a day, leaving them a few hours of awake time.

How often do sloths eat?

  • They spend a good portion of their awake time feeding.
  • Interestingly, because of their very slow metabolism, sloths consume very little food in a day (about 0.35 kg a day for the adult Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth), and so, they will tend to feed less often.

What Eats Sloths?

Thanks to their slow nature, sloths have green algae growing on their hairs, making them blend well with their forest habitats.

What eats sloths ? Jaguars

  • This attribute shields sloths from predators.
  • However, those species that are not well camouflaged often fall prey to organisms like ocelots, jaguars, jaguarundis, and harpy eagles.
  • Indigenous people also hunt sloths because they consider them to be a delicacy.

Where Do Sloths Fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Sloths play a significant role in the animal food chain. They are considered to be walking ecosystems!

  • Sloth fur provides a right home for some insects, which function as food for other animal species like birds (with the example of brown jays ).
  • These insects also provide fertilizer for the algae growing on sloth bodies to thrive. Sloths play an essential role as predators.
  • They help regulate the populations of the organisms they feed on, thus promoting a balance in the ecosystem.
  • In their role as prey, sloths provide vital protein nutrients to large arboreal predators that rely on them for food.

Cite this article as: "What Do Sloths Eat?," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, January 12, 2017, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-sloths-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “ADW: Bradypus pygmaeus: INFORMATION”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “Pygmy three-toed sloth conservation | Zoological Society of London (ZSL)”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “Hoffman’s Two-Toed Sloth”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “The National Aviary – Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus)”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth: Species in World Land Trust reserves”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “Two-Toed Sloth – Wildlife Learning Center”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “ADW: Choloepus hoffmanni: INFORMATION”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “Animals of the Rainforest-Sloth”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “Hoffman's Two-Toed Sloth Facts and Information | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.
  • “Sloths’ fur provides a feast for hungry birds | Science | AAAS”. Accessed October 12, 2019. Link.

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