2 Toed Sloth Vs 3 Toed Sloth – They Aren’t All The Same

I wonder how many people realize that there is more than just one type of sloth? I’ll be honest and admit that until I started writing articles on this website, I had no idea that more than one type of sloth existed. I now know that there are several species of sloths in the animal kingdom and will expand on this further in this article. Specifically, I will discuss the topic of 2 toed sloth vs 3 toed sloth.

I will do so by presenting the different species of sloths that currently exist, describing each one of them in a bit of detail, presenting some of the differences between them, as well as presenting some of the similarities between them. Hopefully, the end result will be an informative, educational, and enjoyable article. So, let’s talk toes and sloths, shall we!

 

How Many Toes Are We Talking About Here?

Way back when, there was only one species of sloth that existed. As they evolved over a 35 to 40 million year period, two groups of sloths emerged – two-toed ones and three-toed ones. There are currently two species of two-toed sloths and four species of three-toed ones.

In the category of two-toed sloths, we have the Hoffman’s sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) and the Linnaeus’s sloth (Choloepus didactylus). In the three-toed category, we have the Brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus), the Maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus), the Pale-throated sloth (Bradypus tridactylus), and the Pygmy sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus).

From a purely anatomical/biological perspective, all sloths actually have three toes but the two-toed sloths only have two fingers. A more accurate description would be to call them three-fingered and two-fingered sloths (which some people do).

 

The Six Sloths Described

While each of the six species of sloths share some similarities, there are also several differences between them, too. A brief description of each of the six species of sloths is summarized here:

  • Hoffman’s sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) – this sloth can be found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. This particular sloth species loves being way, way up in the rainforest trees.
  • Linnaeus’s sloth (Choloepus didactylus) – this sloth lives in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. This particular sloth has a home range of approximately 10 acres, which is around 0.04 square kilometers.
  • Brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus) – living in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela, this particular sloth can be found in various forests, and even in swamps.
  • Maned sloth (Bradypus torquatus) – this sloth can only be found in a small part of Brazil and can have a home range of almost 15 acres, which is about 0.06 square kilometers.
  • Pale-throated sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) – this sloth lives in Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela. This particular sloth enjoys leading a solitary existence and rarely leaves the comfort of the trees.
  • Pygmy sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) – according to The Sloth Conservation Foundation, “Pygmy sloths are found exclusively on the tiny and remote Isla Escudo de Veraguas in Panama…”. The Isla Escudo de Veraguas is only about 4.3 square kilometers, which is a small home range for this particular sloth (which, sadly, is also critically endangered).

 

How Are These Sloths Different?

Just like different people have different characteristics, different personalities, different looks, etc., so it is with sloths, too. Here are some of the differences between two-toed and three-toed sloths:

  • Three-toed sloths always look like they are smiling (see picture shown of a three-toed sloth…see, smiling away!).
  • When comparing sizes, three-toed sloths are smaller than two-toed ones. For more detailed information regarding sloth sizes, check out my article titled, “How Big Are Sloths? Here Is Some Info For You“.
  • Neck vertebrae is different between three-toed and two-toed sloths with three-toed ones having more than two-toed ones (nine versus five).
  • Both three-toed and two-toed sloths spend a large percentage of their lives hanging upside-down, but that percentage is smaller for three-toed sloths than it is for two-toed ones.
  • From an activity perspective, three-toed sloths do less than two-toed ones do.
  • While both three-toed and two-toed sloths move very, very, very slowly, three-toed sloths are slower than two-toed ones. For more information about why sloths move so slowly, check out my article titled, “Why Do Sloths Move Slowly? It’s About Survival“. For additional information about how slowly sloths move, check out my article titled, “How Slow Are Sloths? Let’s Take A Look At This…..Slowly!“.

 

How Are These Sloths Similar?

While the different species of sloths have differences, they also share many similarities, too. Some of these similarities are as follows:

  • Both three-toed and two-toed sloths are cute, adorable, lovable creatures.
  • Both three-toed and two-toed sloths are gentle animals (but still wild animals). For more information about this, check out my article titled, “Are Sloths Dangerous? Is This Even Possible?“.
  • Sadly, all sloths are threatened with two of them being in danger of becoming extinct. For more information about this, check out my article titled, “Are Sloths Endangered? The Sad Reality“.

 

Toes and Sloths

Well, after talking about toes, fingers, and sloths (along with a few other things), this article was written to discuss 2 toed sloth vs 3 toed sloth. I did so by presenting the different species of sloths that currently exist, describing each one of them in a bit of detail, presenting some of the differences between them, as well as presenting some of the similarities between them.

Two-toed or three-toed, all sloths are wonderful creatures and deserve to be treated with respect at all times, and also deserve to have a safe and secure future. Sloths are such unique and interesting animals, and it is so fascinating to me to learn more about them.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article and please feel free to leave any comments or questions below. As always, I will be sure to reply.

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2 comments

  • Just WOW! So there are 2 Toed and 3 toed Sloths? Who would have thought? Thank goodness I came by this, another educative article from you. I did my own little research immediately after I saw this article; Says the 2 toed Sloth have great resemblance to the Sloth which were present very many years ago while the 3 Toed has no similarities.

    • Michael Christmann says:

      Yes, there are indeed 2 toed and 3 toed sloths.  And who would have thought…certainly not me until I started writing these articles.

      The 2 toed sloths are closer relatives to the sloths of the past than the 3 toed ones are, so it would make sense that they have more of a resemblance to them than the 3 toed ones do.  Having said that, claws have always been an extremely important feature for all sloths to have (for 3 toed ones, 2 toed ones, and extinct ones) so that is one major similarity that 3 toed sloths have to extinct ones – the usefulness and importance of their claws.

      Thank you for leaving your comments on this article.

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