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The characteristics and endangerment of sloths a type of mammal

Pygmy three-toed sloth courtesy of ZSL Status: Critically endangered Known as: Likely less than 100. Description Pygmy three-toed sloths are an excellent example of insular dwarfism, which occurs when a population is confined to an island and must adapt to the limited resources of space and food. Weight is just 2. A unique species of symbiotic algae grows in the fur of the pygmy three-toed sloth, giving their fur a greenish tint that acts as excellent camouflage when combined with their slow movements.

Pygmy three-toed sloths spend most of their lives in trees, though they must descend to the ground to urinate and defecate.

Threats to wild species and our environment

They can only crawl while on the ground, though they are good swimmers. In the trees, they hook themselves securely to branches with the three large claws on each of their feet.

They often hang upside down from branches while in the trees. Their sole food is the leaves of the red mangrove trees where they live. The mating behaviour of these sloths is a mystery, but scientists believe it is the same as that of other sloths.

Sexual maturity is probably reached at around three years, and young are born after a gestation of six to twelve months. Loud vocalizations enable the male and female to find each other in their leafy habitat.

The female has one offspring, rarely twins, who cling to her underside for the first period of their lives.

Separated from the Panamanian coast by 17 kilometres of ocean, the island of Escudo de Veraguas is the only home of the pygmy three-toed sloth. The sloths live only in red mangroves found in a narrow band along the seaside, which are estimated to cover just 1.

Since they are confined to one island surrounded by oceanic waters, every hectare of habitat is vitally important to pygmy three-toed sloths. Unfortunately, vigorous cutting of mangrove trees is occurring on Escudo de Veraguas. If unchecked, this could lead to the outright extinction of these intriguing, dwarf mammals.

Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth

Surreptitious hunting by fishermen operating near the island may also be occurring, since the sloths are an easy source of meat.

These sloths are theoretically protected, but there practically no actual enforcement of the ban on hunting them or destroying their habitat. Money is being gathered to change the local economy to a more sustainable model that will not witness as much cypress logging or sloth poaching, and greater enforcement of protective measures is also possible. Pygmy three-toed sloth Videos Organisations Do you know of or are you a part of an organisation that work to conserve the Pygmy three-toed sloth, then please contact us to have it featured on Our Endangered World.