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Choloepus hoffmanni

Choloepus hoffmanni (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Ordo: Pilosa
Subordo: Folivora
Familia: Megalonychidae
Genus: Choloepus
Species: Choloepus hoffmanni
Subspecies: C. h. capitalis - C. h. florenciae - C. h. juruanus - C. h. pallescens


Choloepus hoffmanni Peters, 1858

Type locality: "Costa Rica", Heredia, Volcán Barba (Wetzel and Avila-Pires, 1980)

Vernacular names
English: Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth
Español: Unau
Français: Unau d'Hoffmann
Polski: Leniwiec krótkoszyi, Leniwiec Hoffmana


* Choloepus hoffmanni on Mammal Species of the World.
* Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 2 Volume Set edited by Don E. Wilson, DeeAnn M. Reeder
* Monatsb. K. Preuss. Akad. Wiss. Berlin 1858: 128.

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 (12–15 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.


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


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

High in Monteverde canopy

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 typical 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.

This species often exhibits exaggerated wobbling of the head. Another trait of this sloth is that it often spits when the mouth opens. The saliva often accumulates on the lower lip, giving the creature a comical appearance.

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.[3]
Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth in northern Peru

Life history
Young sloth being raised in a wildlife rescue center on the Gulf of Dulce, Costa Rica.

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.


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
Suspended from a branch

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.


1. ^ Gardner, Alfred (16 November 2005). Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). pp. 101. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
2. ^ Meritt, M. & Members of the IUCN SSC Edentate Specialist Group (2008). Choloepus hoffmanni. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 1 December 2008.
3. ^ Dickman, Chris (1993). Macdonald, David. ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. p. 777.

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

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