Three Toed Sloth by Allison Weber

Background info

The bradypus pygmaeus also more well known as the three toed sloth is on the critically endangered species list. The three toed sloth became listed because continuing decline in the quality of sloths habitats and due to habitat degradation, which is the land in which the sloths live is not able to support them living there.

Timeline

This is what the three toed sloth looks like. As you know from the name you can distinguish this sloth by it only have three toes on each arm and there tan coat while two toed sloths often have gray-brown colored coats.

Geographic Range

Sloths live primarily in South America but more specifically in an area called Isla Escudo de Veraguas. This land consists of numerous Caribbean islands and panama. They live in the forest and mangroves of these islands.

Threats

Humans oppose the most threats to sloths. These threats consist of seasonal visitors such as fishermen, campesinos, lobster divers, tourists, and local people who cut down the trees and try to use the wood to build wood houses on the island. As they cut down these trees it increases the habitat degradation because eventually there isn’t enough trees and food for the sloths to live sustainably.

Sloths have ways to hide from threats, some being that green algae grow from their hair, enabling them to better blend into the leaves and vines of the treetop canopy. Their extremely slow movements might also help conceal them from predators that rely on vision to hunt.

Population

The population for the sloths continue to decrease. There has been no estimate for the island for number of sloths made recently but according to redlist.org they presume the numbers would be relatively low in the forest because of the habitat degradation but they think that the amount of sloths living in the mangroves would be high for their endangered rate. Despite having been designated as a protected landscape through a governmental resolution in 2009, a number of domestic and international efforts have been mounted to develop tourism infrastructure on the island.

As I stated earlier the population trend for sloths shows that they are decreasing. This is related to the habitat degradation because of the farmer, tourist, local people, and others need and want for wood even though they are not thinking in sustainable which is resulting in the progressively declining population of sloths.

Ecology & Habitat

The sloths are living in a terrestrial ecosystem. A terrestrial ecosystem is an ecosystem that can be found on land forms, in this case a terrestrial ecosystem that the three toed sloth would live in is a taiga, swampy coniferous forest or temperate deciduous forest, and tropical rain forest. These three toed sloths is found both in mangrove patches and on the interior of Isla Escudo. Although previously thought to exclusively inhabit the red mangroves of the island, recent tracking studies have found the sloths on the interior of the island, in dense tropical rain forest. Because of the difficulty of censusing cryptic canopy mammals, their density and abundance in the thicker forests is unknown. Nothing is known about their reproduction, lifespan, home range, or diet, although it is suspected that it primarily, if not exclusively, feeds on mangrove leaves. Its population is likely larger than previously estimated, but is still limited due to its restricted habitat range.

There is not much of a known impact that sloths have on their terrestrial ecosystem. However, these sloths are known to feed on mangrove leaves which suggests that sloths may be crucial for the mangroves regrowth.

Conservation

The three toed sloths are mostly restricted to a single island of Panama, which is protected as a wildlife refuge and is contained within the Ngäbe bugle Comarca, which is the group of indigenous people from one of the panama islands that try keep sloths around and protect them from going extinct. Despite their efforts, there is still a need to improve upon the enforcement of this protected area. A comprehensive conservation plan is underway, bringing together the local community, wildlife authorities in Panama, and the national and international scientific community to protect the island, using the pygmy sloth as a flagship species. Hopefully these will be successful and stop the decrease of the sloth population and keep them safe.

Fun Facts!!

-Three-toed sloths have nine cervical vertebrae - four more than their relatives -that enable them to rotate their heads 270 degrees to scan for threats.

-Three-toed sloths raise their body temperature by basking, lie exposed to warmth and light, typically from the sun, for relaxation and pleasure.

-Three-toed sloths have extremely slow metabolism, enabling them to remain in the same tree for several days before descending to seek more food.

-They sleep 15 to 20 hours daily and spend the rest of their time foraging for leaves or traveling between trees. They also come down to defecate but only need to do that once every eight days, allowing them to save valuable energy and time.

Bibliography

Voirin, B., Smith, D., Chiarello, A. & Moraes-Barros, N. 2014. Bradypus pygmaeus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T61925A47444229. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-1.RLTS.T61925A47444229.en. Downloaded on 28 December 2016.

"Special Characteristics & Adaptations of a Sloth." Animals - Mom.me. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2017.

Credits:

Created with images by chaz jackson - "Brown-Throated Three-toed Sloth" • katja - "sloth two toes sloth rainforest"

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