The Truth About Sloths: Furry Residents Of The Tropical Forest

Panama has three species of sloths: the Hoffman´s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni), the Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus), and the unique Pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus), restricted to the Escudo de Veraguas Island, an island about 2 hours by boat from Tranquilo Bay.

Two-toed Sloth Panama

Two Hoffman´s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni)

The life of all the sloths occur mostly at the trees, where they perform extremely well, they are also good swimmers, but don’t do it in a regular basis, only when its needed; they try to avoid the ground, where they are more vulnerable to potential predators (one of their main predators are big cats, and a sloth on the ground will be an easy meal).

Panama Wildlife

Hoffman´s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni)

Two-toed Sloths are slightly larger than three-toed Sloths, harder to see, because of their nocturnal habits, never the less, they can be observed during the day, actively moving or feeding, for short periods of time. You can imagine how happy we where when we found those two Hoffman´s Two-toed Sloths, when we encounter them a few weeks ago, taking a siesta and eating a snack in a very open area, at eye level!

Bocas Shorts #4: Two-toed Sloth Commute

Sloth CommuteAfter its nap, the two-toed Sloth start crawling up higher, looking for branches that connected, and using the palm leaves to get to the power line.  At least that’s what we thought, that he was planning on going across the power line, because we have seen this species use the wire as a way to get access to to some of the trees where they feed near the main building or just to move from one patch of forest to another, but…

In the end the sloth had something different in mind.  He successfully accessed the power line and then went on to the next palm tree.  Why? We are not sure, but we chose to move away and let it make its way alone.  A few minutes later I went back to look for it and could not find it.

Surprise Close By

A while ago, I was walking to my nursery, and I had a really nice encounter. Moving along the electricity wire was a Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni), behind one of the cabins, next to the main building.

I ran and called the kids, some of them came and we stayed behind some trees and watched “the traveler.”   What a surprise, we saw that this guy wasn´t really going too far, it had a plan, and we got to see it.  He got in between the two electrical wires and just stayed there like he was in hammock and took a nap!!!
Sloth Panama

After the nap we saw it moving along the electricity wire again.  This time he made his way, closer to the main building, to another spot, for another nap.
Wildlife Panama

On the Tranquilo Bay grounds, we can see both the Two-toed and Three-toed Sloths. Three-toed Sloths (Bradypus variegarus) are more common.  Also, Three-toed Sloth are  mostly active during the day which makes them easier to find. This particular find was very special because Two-toed Sloths are mostly nocturnal, but the nocturnal habits are not always a rule, as you can see in these pictures.
Panama Two-toed Sloth

Caught in Motion

Wildlife Panama

Months ago, while we were birding with a group on the mainland, I “caught” this Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) walking down a tree in mainland.  It was a nice find, because this hairy creature does not spend much time active during the day.

Two-toed Sloth are nocturnal, but of course that does not mean that if they want to move around or feel like is time for a snack they are not going to do it.  Actually this furry, friendly guy, moved for us and ate in front of us.  He was absolutely not concerned about our presence which made it a great moment to get some pictures.

The reason I chose this picture in particular, is because it shows the way the species moves.  Two-toed Sloths move in a different way, when they are going down the tree, they always go with their head first (head down), where their close relative, the three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus), always goes up and down the tree with its head up.