Sloths in Costa Rica

A Choloepus hoffmanni at Sloth Sanctuary

Sloths are arboreal mammals that spend most of their lives high up on trees. In Costa Rica, there are two main species of sloths. Ones with pinkish faces are Choloepus hoffmanni or two-toed sloths. Ones with dark bandit-like masks around their eyes are Bradypus variegatus or three-toed sloths. With over a quarter of its land dedicated as protected nature reserves, Costa Rica is a great place to see sloths among many other different species of animals and plants.

Sloths are known for their slow movement and slow metabolism. They spend most of their time curled up on trees and feeding off leaves. In fact, they move so little that algae develop in their thick fur coat. The algae adds a green tint to their coats and helps them camouflage against predators. So, if you want to spot a sloth during a hike, look up and look for a large green furry ball.

A Three Toed Sloth Seen Through Binoculars
A Three Toed Sloth Seen Through Binoculars

When sloths are on the ground, they do not walk. Instead, they use their long claws to drag their bodies along. According to the guide at Santuario de Perezosos (Sloth Sanctuary), sometimes people thought the sloths have fallen off from trees and brought them there. Sloth Sanctuary rehabilitates the sloths brought to them and releases them back to the forest when they are ready. Those that cannot be release back into the wild take up residence at Sloth Sanctuary.


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