Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Two-toed Sloths (Choloepus spp.) Fact Sheet
Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.
Class: Mammalia – mammals
Order: Pilosa — group of placental mammals found in the Americas, including anteaters and sloths, and extinct ground sloths
Family: Megalonychidae – two-toed sloths
Genus: Choloepus – two-toed sloths
Species: Choloepus didactylus – southern two-toed sloth, Linnaeus's two-toed sloth, Linné's two-toed sloth
Species: Choloepus hoffmanni – Hoffmann's two-toed sloth
4 to 9 kg (9 to 20 lb)
540 to 740 mm (21 to 29 in)
23 ± 7 mm (about 1 inch) (C. didactylus)
C. didactylus is uniformly brown. C. hoffmanni is lighter in color; pale throat, darker chest.
Gray-brown/tan hair during dry season. Tinted green in the wet season due to algal growth.
|Distribution & Status
||Behavior & Ecology
Choloepus didactylus: northern South America (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela)
Choloepus hoffmanni: 2 separate populations—(1) Nicaragua, south to Venezuela and (2) northcentral Brazil, south to central Bolivia
Tropical and cloud forests with tree crowns connected for tree-to-tree movement
Least Concern (both species)
Choloepus didactylus: not listed
Choloepus hoffmanni: not listed
Populations in the Wild
Total populations not reported; see IUCN fact sheets for densities.
Population trends unknown.
Slow, deliberate movement. Agile in trees; move by hooking claws onto branches. Can move on the ground, but can only drag themselves with claws and forelimbs for short distances. Excellent swimmers.
Nocturnal; activity begins about one hour following sunset and ceases about two hours before dawn.
Adults typically solitary, unless with mates or young. Females may feed in same tree.
Mainly plants—leaves, twigs, buds, fruit. Occassionally small mammals (rodents) and insects.
Preyed upon by Harpy Eagles, anacondas, jaguars, ocelots, and humans
|Reproduction & Development
Females: approximately 3 years of age
Males: approximately 4-5 years of age
340-400 g (about 12-14 oz)
Age at Independence
10-12 months, but may remain with mother up to 2 years; weaned at about one month
In the wild: 10-15 years old
In managed care: over 30 years old
- In prehistoric times, sloths were found in the Americas (South, Central, and North Americas), the Caribbean, and Antarctica.
- Two-toed sloths do everything hanging upside down—eating, sleeping, mating and even giving birth!
- Unlike most mammals, a sloth's body temperature varies with temperature of environment; fur insulates; moving between sun and shade allows them to regulate their body temperature
- Four-chambered stomach is filled with bacteria, which helps ferment plant matter consumed
- Excellent camouflage and slow movements help them elude predators
- By eliminating waste near the base of trees, sloth fertilize the trees they live in
- Entirely dependent on forests; losing habitat to ranching, agriculture, loggind, and urban expansion
- San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliances newest two-toed sloth born April 19, 2019 to mom Xena.
About This Fact Sheet
© 2009-2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Minor updates 2017, 2019.
How to cite: Two-toed Sloths (Choloepus spp.) Fact Sheet. c2009-2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/ twotoedsloths
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)
Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to email@example.com.
SDZWA Library Links
Fact Sheet Index
Fact sheet index, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library
Home page, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library
Email the librarians at firstname.lastname@example.org