Animal Info - Maned Three-toed Sloth

(Other Names: Ai-Igapo, Ai-Pixuna, Brazilian Three-toed Sloth, Maned Sloth, Preguiça-de-Coleira, Preguiça-Preta)

Bradypus torquatus

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Maned Three-toed Sloth #1 (12 Kb JPEG); Maned Three-toed Sloth #2 (77 Kb JPEG) (Terrambiente)

The maned three-toed sloth has a small head, tiny eyes and ears, and a small tail hidden in its fur. It is about 50 cm (20") long and weighs up to 4.5 kg (10 lb). Algae, mites, ticks, beetles, and even moths live in the coarse outer coat, which is long, dark, and manelike around its head, neck, and shoulders. Its underfur is fine, dense, and pale.

The maned three-toed sloth is restricted to the Atlantic coastal forests of eastern Brazil. It is found in tropical coastal forest, most typically in areas with an annual precipitation of at least 1,200 mm (47"). The maned three-toed sloth can be found in secondary forest habitats. The maned three-toed sloth is found at altitudes from sea level to around 1,000 m (3300').

The maned three-toed sloth eats the leaves, buds, and soft twigs of a few forest trees, especially those of the Cecropia. It comes to the ground only to defecate, or to move to another tree if it cannot travel through the branches. It rarely descends to the ground because, when it is on a level surface, it is unable to stand and walk. On the ground the sloth can only drag itself along by its longer, stronger front legs and claws. Its main defense is to stay still and unnoticed or to lash out with its formidable claws. On the other hand, it can swim well. The maned three-toed sloth is a solitary animal.

Historically, the maned three-toed sloth possibly occurred in Brazil throughout the coastal forest of Bahia through to the State of Pernambuco. At present, the southern part of the State of Bahia is its remaining stronghold. In some parts of Bahia and Espirito Santo, this species is locally abundant in forest fragments. It has been reported from extreme northern Minas Gerais. The remaining habitat is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in its overall population. The coastal forest habitats of the maned three-toed sloth are diminishing rapidly and becoming severely fragmented as a result of lumber extraction, charcoal production, and clearance for plantations and cattle pasture. The maned three-toed sloth is also significantly threatened by excessive hunting for food and sport. Additional threats include accidental mortality on roads and predation by domestic dogs.


Tidbits

*** Anteaters, sloths and armadillos, previously called "edentates", are now collectively known as "xenarthrans".  This name means "strange joint." It refers to unusual joints in their backbones - special articulations called "xenarthrales" on the vertebrae of the lower back - which provide extra support. These animals also all have a small brain and reduced dentition. (Burnie & Wilson 2001)

*** The maned three-toed sloth has "wrong-way fur": the outer hairs are angled "up," in the opposite direction to most mammals, so they hang down when the sloth is in its normal inverted position (Burnie & Wilson 2001)


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Maned Three-toed Sloth Is Currently Found:

2006: Occurs in Brazil. (IUCN 2006) 

History of Distribution:

Historically, the maned three-toed sloth possibly occurred in Brazil throughout the coastal forest of Bahia through to the State of Pernambuco. At present, the southern part of the State of Bahia is its remaining stronghold. In some parts of Bahia and Espirito Santo, this species is locally abundant in forest fragments. The maned three-toed sloth does not occur from the left bank of the Doce River to the vicinity of the Mucuri River. It has been reported from extreme northern Minas Gerais on the left bank of the Jequitinhonha River. The maximum extent of occurrence of the maned three-toed sloth is less than 5,000 sq km (2000 sq mi) based on the remaining forest within its range, with the actual area perhaps much less. The remaining habitat is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in its overall population. (IUCN 2006) 

Distribution Map (12 Kb) (InfoNatura) 

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The coastal forest habitats of the maned three-toed sloth are diminishing rapidly and becoming severely fragmented as a result of lumber extraction, charcoal production, and clearance for plantations and cattle pasture. The maned three-toed sloth is also significantly threatened by excessive hunting for food and sport. Additional threats include accidental mortality on roads and predation by domestic dogs. (IUCN 2006)


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The maned three-toed sloth is 45 - 50 cm (18 - 20") long and weighs 3.5 - 4.5 kg (7.7 - 10 lb).

Habitat:

The maned three-toed sloth is restricted to the Atlantic coastal forests of eastern Brazil. It is found in tropical coastal forest, most typically in areas with an annual precipitation of at least 1,200 mm (47"). The maned three-toed sloth can be found in secondary forest habitats, and animals have been recorded from forest fragments as small as 50 ha (125 ac), although the long-term persistence of populations at these sites is unknown. The maned three-toed sloth is found at altitudes from sea level to around 1,000 m (3300'). (IUCN 2006) 

The maned three-toed sloth is one of the species that live in both the Atlantic Forest Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl.) and the Brazilian Atlantic Forests Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Gestation Period:

5 - 6 months (Burnie & Wilson 2001).

Birth Season:

Births normally occur at the beginning of the dry season.

Birth Rate:

The female maned three-toed sloth usually has a single young (IUCN 2006)

Early Development:

A baby maned three-toed sloth clings to its mother’s abdomen with its well-formed, hook-shaped claws. The young suckles for up to 4 weeks and after weaning stays with her, being carried and learning feeding patterns, for another 6 months. (Burnie & Wilson 2001)

Maximum Age:

Thought to be less than 12 years.

Diet:

The maned three-toed sloth is a strict folivore that eats the leaves, buds, and soft twigs of a few forest trees, especially the Cecropia (Burnie & Wilson 2001).

Behavior:

The maned three-toed sloth comes to the ground only to defecate, or to move to another tree if it cannot travel through the branches. It rarely descends to the ground because, when it is on a level surface, it is unable to stand and walk. On the ground the sloth can only drag itself along by its longer, stronger front legs and claws. On the other hand, it can swim well. In addition to its physical slowness, its muscles are small and weak for its overall body size, and even its metabolism is slower than the metabolism of most other mammals, giving it a low body temperature of just above 30º C (86º F). Its main defense is to stay still and unnoticed or to lash out with its formidable claws. (Burnie & Wilson 2001)

Social Organization:

The maned three-toed sloth is a solitary animal.


References

Burnie & Wilson 2001, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl., Curry-Lindahl 1972, InfoNatura, IUCN 1969, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, IUCN 2006, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Terrambiente


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Last modified: June 4, 2006;

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