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Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth


'''Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth'(Choloepus hoffmanni) is a species of sloth from Central and South America. It is a solitary nocturnal and arboreal animal, found in mature and secondary rainforests and deciduous forests. With their shaggy fur, huge claws, and deliberate movements, two-toed sloths are unlikely to be confused with any other animal. At 5.5 to 7 kg (1215 lbs) and about 60 cm (2 ft) in length, these nocturnal animals are the perfect size for moving about in the treetops of their rainforest habitat.

The name of this animal commemorates the German naturalist Karl Hoffmann.

Subspecies

Choloepus hoffmanni capitalis, J.A. Allen, 1913 Choloepus hoffmanni florenciae, J.A. Allen, 1913 Choloepus hoffmanni juruanus, Lonnberg, 1942 Choloepus hoffmanni pallescens, Lonnberg, 1928 Choloepus hoffmanni hoffmanni'', Peters, 1858

Range

Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth is found in the rainforest canopy in Central and South America, from Nicaragua south to Bolivia, and from Peru east to Brazil.

Behaviour

Two-toed sloths spend most of their time in trees, though they may travel on the ground to move to a new tree, and are excellent swimmers. They are strictly nocturnal, moving slowly through the canopy after dark, munching on leaves. The name "sloth" means "lazy," but the slow movements of this animal are actually an adaptation for surviving on a low-energy diet of leaves. These sloths have half the metabolic rate of a mammal of the same size. Sloths have very poor eyesight and hearing, and rely almost entirely on their senses of touch and smell to find food.

Interesting behavior which can be noted about the Hoffman is that this species often shows signs of excessive wobbling of the head, giving it a very comical appearance. Another interesting trait found within this particular type of sloth is that it often spits when the mouth opens. The saliva from the Hoffman often accumulates on the lower lip, giving a very comical appearance to the creature.

Two-toed sloths hang from tree branches, suspended by their huge, hook-like claws, which are two to three inches long. Sloths sometimes are found hanging off trees after they die. Nearly everything a sloth does, including eating, sleeping, mating, and giving birth, is done while hanging from the branches in the trees. The only time that sloths are normally found right side up is when they go down to the ground to defecate, which they only do about once every 5 days.

Sloths have many predators, including the Jaguar, eagles, and large snakes. If threatened, sloths can defend themselves by slashing out at a predator with their huge claws or biting with their sharp cheek teeth. However, a sloth's main defense is to avoid being attacked in the first place. The two-toed sloth can survive wounds that would be fatal to another mammal its size. The sloth's slow, deliberate movements and algae-covered fur make them difficult for predators to spot from a distance. Their treetop home is also out of reach for many larger predators. Their long, coarse fur also protects them from sun and rain. Their fur, unlike other mammals, flows from belly to top, not top to belly. This is so that when it rains, and they are hanging upside down, the rain slides off the fur easily.

Over parts of its range, Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth overlaps the range of the Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth. Where this overlap occurs, the two-toed sloth tends to be larger and less numerous than its relative, showing less activity and being more nocturnal than the three-toed sloth.

Life history

Female sloths may live in groups, while male sloths are usually solitary. In the wild, there are about 11 times more female two-toed sloths than male two-toed sloths. Female two-toed sloths give birth to a single offspring after an 11.5 month gestation period. The pup will nurse for at least 9 months, and may remain near its mother for more than 2 years. Two-toed sloths reach maturity at 4 to 5 years old.

Diet

Though two-toed sloths may occasionally eat fruits and flowers, nearly all of their diet is composed of tree leaves. They use their lips to tear off their food and chew with their peg-like teeth which have no enamel and are always growing. Like the unrelated artiodactyls, sloths have a multi-chambered stomach filled with symbiotic bacteria to help them digest the cellulose in their fiber-rich diet. It may take a sloth up to a month to completely digest a meal, and up to two thirds of a sloth's weight may be due to the leaves in its digestive system.

Conservation status

Habitat destruction is probably causing a decrease in the wild Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth population, but there is little reliable data on the number of wild individuals. Sloths and people have little contact with one another in the wild.

References

Louise H. Emmons and Francois Feer, 1997 - Neotropical Rainforest Mammals, A Field Guide.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth


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