Sloth (Linne's two-toed)

Scientific name 
Choloepus didactylus
Sloth - Leander hanging down at rainforest life

What they look like

The two-toed sloth, named because of the two long claws it possess on its forelimbs, has long, course hair that is caramel and cream coloured. When threatened, it can slash at predators using its claws to defend to itself. Sloths are themselves a mini eco-system with moths, algae and a multiple other microorganisms growing in their fur, providing them with advanced camouflage.

Animal facts

Sloths usually only venture onto the ground when off to another tree in search of a mate or to defecate. They spend nearly their whole lives hanging upside down from trees and can do pretty much everything in this position - from eating to giving birth. Although they can’t really walk when on the ground, adapting more of a crawling movement, they are surprisingly very good swimmers. Sloths have the lowest variable body temperature of any mammal, ranging from between 24-33°C, far lower than a human’s 37°C. Due to their very slow metabolism sloth sonly get to go to the toilet once a week!

What they eat

Leaves, twigs and fruit


Up in the trees of tropical rainforests

Where they live

Amazon basin to Venezuela


Sloths avoid predators almost completely just by staying really, really still!


ZSL's conservation work with sloths

There is a small group of tiny pygmy three-toed sloths living on the uninhabited Escudo island in Panama and a team of conservationists from ZSL are surveying the species to build the first picture of how these little-known animals are faring. 

Critically-endangered, the pygmy three-toed sloth is ranked at number 16 on the EDGE of Existence Mammals List and are Critically Endangered: current data suggests that there are fewer than 500 pygmy sloths left on the island, but the figure could even be fewer than 100 animals.

Learn more about the pygmy three-toed sloth conservation project

Life span
Up to 40 years