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There are six species of Sloth living in the world today, and Costa Rica is home to two of them: the Brown-Throated Three-Fingered Sloth (Bradypus variegatus), and Hoffman’s Two-Fingered Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni).

Although there are similarities in their general appearance, they are very different in their anatomy, temperament and care needs. The Two-Fingered Sloth is nocturnal, meaning they are active a night. They have 2 'fingers' on their 'hands' and 3 'toes' on their 'feet'. They are often recognized for their pig-like nose with hair that tends to be blond or brown. It is difficult to identify the sex of a wild Two-Fingered sloth from afar because their sexual organs are hidden within their fur.

The Three-Fingered Sloth is diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. They have 3 'fingers' on their 'hands' and 3 'toes' on their 'feet'. They are often recognized for their 'pura vida smile', a black marking across their mouth as well as a black 'mask' around their eyes. Their hair is salt-and-pepper colored meaning that it is black, grey and white.

While they have internal sexual organs you can actually determine the gender of a sexually mature Three-Fingered sloth by a very distinct marking on their back. A juvenile male or adult female Three-Fingered sloth will have a white patch of hair with a vertical black line through the middle. An adult male Three-Fingered sloth will have an orange patch of hair with a brown line running through it.

JRC Statistics - 3 fingers

Sloth Statistics

JRC Statistics - 2 Fingers

Sloth Statistics

Admission Reasons - 3 fingers

Sloth Statistics

Admission Reasons - 2 Fingers

Sloth Statistics

Though both species of sloth are in the Xenarthran family, they are only very distantly related to each other. Surprisingly, they are also related to armadillos and anteaters!

At the JRC we receive over 300 sloths each year. From adults who may have been electrocuted on a badly insulated power line, hit by a car or attacked by dogs to new born babies who have been orphaned, their mother having been killed due to the same reasons above.

From baby to release, a sloth might stay at the center for up to 2 years and we structure a growing infant sloth’s time at the center as 'kindergarten', 'middle school', 'high school' and finally 'sloth university' which helps them develop together and learn the skills essential for survival in the wild.

We are also home to a number of permanent residents whose injuries are too severe for them to be able to survive in the wild if they were released (e.g after the loss of a limb).

After their release, they are monitored for a period using radio collars to ensure that they are coping with their new independence.

There are a lot of myths about sloths including how long do they sleep and how docile and friendly they are. Come on a tour at the Jaguar Rescue Center and find out which are true, which are false, as well as lots more fascinating facts from our knowledgeable guides. As an added bonus, by just walking or cycling around the local area, you are likely to see sloths hanging out in their natural environment, where they belong.

baby sloth puerto viejo limon

sloths Costa Rica

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