Creature Feature: The Pygmy Three-toed Sloth
The Pygmy Three-toed Sloth is a Critically Endangered species. They are 20% smaller than other Three-toed Sloth species and weigh 40% less. Their homes can be found throughout the mangrove forests that surround the Isla Escudo de Veraguas—at least, for the time being.
Sloths are generally known to be slow movers through the trees, but if you put them in water you’ll see a whole different side. Three-toed Sloths are actually good swimmers. Another thing that may surprise you is, although the Three-toed Sloth is a mammal, their body temperature behaves more like a reptile in that they cannot maintain a constant body temperature. In other words, their body temperature will change with the air temperature around them.
Now, as for the Pygmy Three-toed Sloth, this little creature is in a terrible situation. You already know that it can only be found in the mangroves. What you don’t know is the population is on a rapid decline and right now it’s uncertain how many are actually left. Estimations are in the several hundreds, but that could be extreme wishful thinking. They typically feed on the leaves in the mangrove and although the area is supposed to be protected as a wildlife refuge, but enforcement of that protection is pretty much a joke.
Local residents, fishermen and others go to the island to hunt and ultimately poach these Pygmy Three-toed Sloths. Habitat loss and tourism development have also posed major threats to this species. To find out more about the Pygmy Three-toed Sloth, check out the links below:
The Animal Files
Forgotten Species: The Marooned Pygmy Three-toed Sloth
Newly Described Mammals Week: Pygmy Three-toed Sloth
National Geographic: Three-toed Sloths
Animal Facts: Pygmy Three-toed Sloth
By Heidi Marshall