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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Species Fact Profile: Hoffmann's Two-Toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni)

Hoffman's Two-Toed Sloth
Choloepus hoffmanni (Peters, 1858)

Range: Southern Central America and Northern South America
Habitat: Rainforest, Deciduous Forest
Diet: Leaves, Fruit, Flowers
Social Grouping: Males are solitary, females for small groups
Reproduction: Breeding is seasonal, with pregnancy occurring during the rainy season and births during the dry season.  Gestation period 11.5 months.  Single offspring carried by mother for 6-9 months, after which it is independent.  Females mature at 3 years old, males at 4-5
Lifespan: 30-40 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Least Concern, CITES Appendix III

  • Body length 58-70 centimeters long, weigh 5.5-7 kilograms
  • Males and females look alike.  Coloration is tan, blonde, or light brown; the head and back are often darker than the rest of the body.  The snout is naked.  Long, shaggy fur runs from the belly to the back, the opposite of most mammals.
  • Most of the animal's life is spent hanging from the trees with its powerful claws (two on each front foot, three on each back foot).  It is very awkward on the ground, but is a surprisingly good swimmer
  • Poor senses of sight and hearing, rely primarily on smell and touch
  • The metabolic rate is half as quick as that of a similarly sized mammal; it may take a month to digest a meal with the add of the symbiotic bacteria in its stomach.  The slow metabolic rate also allows the sloth to recuperate from injuries that would kill other mammal
  • Predators include jaguars, eagles, and large snakes.  The sloth may defend itself with its teeth and claws, but its main defense is camouflage.  In this it is aided by the algae that willg row in its fur, allowing it to blend in with the leaves
  • Often confused with the very similar-looking Linne's two-toed sloth; the two species vary slightly based on their internal anatomy
  • Most mammal species have seven neck vertebrae; Hoffmann's two-toed sloths have a variable number, with individuals having anywhere from 5-8 bones in their neck
  • The slowest mammal species on earth; the very name "sloth" is a synonym for laziness, while Choloepus means "lame foot"
  • Five recognized subspecies across range - one in Central America, four in South America
  • Named after the German naturalist Karl Hoffmann

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