We had a looonnnnng pause on our walk to the bath house one morning while a sloth crossed our path! We’d been spotting these critters high in the treetops where they blend to look like a hairy coconut; but we were thrilled to experience a very close encounter.
This sloth was identifiable by the markings on its face and back. A friend of ours referred to it as a “Costa Rican Sloth” and we wondered how it might have slipped through border control. Upon further investigation we learned that this was a three-toed sloth of the genus bradypus. The black stripe down the sloth’s back determined that it was a male; adult males have unique markings on their backs, like fingerprints. Three-toed sloths mature at three-years old and they can live to be 30 years old. They are the size of a large cat, weighing 8-10lbs. The greenish hue in their thick, coarse fur is actually algae growing on the fur.
Sloths are tree dwelling creatures and their bodies have adapted to enable them to hang from their limbs. The three-toed sloth’s arms are nearly twice the length of its back legs. Sloths are notorious for being slow; in fact, the term sloth in Spanish ‘pereza’ literally translates to ‘laziness.’ Sloths cannot easily walk on all four limbs and while moving about the ground they crawl by pulling themselves forward with their arms. Three-toed sloths can be active during the day or night and they can move between different trees up to four times daily.
Three-toed sloths eat up to 96 varieties of leaves. While eating and lounging, this sloth can rotate its head 300 degrees to scan for predators rather than precious energy repositioning its body. The sloth may be an ideal mascot for cruisers who are slow moving, willing to eat a variety of foods, and are each uniquely identifiable.