Do Sloths Eat? If So, What Do They Enjoy?

Animals (like humans) don’t all enjoy eating the same foods – and with all of the animals that are in the animal kingdom, I can only imagine how many meal varieties there are out there! Have you ever wondered about what foods different animals eat? In this article, I will look at sloths specifically (since I own allaboutsloths.com) and will attempt to answer the question, “Do sloths eat?”

I will do so by presenting the different species of sloths that currently exist, discussing if some (or all) of them eat, talking about the eating habits of some extinct sloths from the past, and highlighting a list of animals that can go a very,very,(very!) long time without eating. At the end of it all, I hope to have provided you with some interesting and useful information, as well as a little bit of entertainment, too. So, let’s begin this food journey!

 

How Many Sloths Are There?

In the animal kingdom, there are six species of sloths, which are divided into two categories: two-toed and three-toed. Hoffman’s (Choloepus hoffmanni) and Linnaeus’s (Choloepus didactylus) sloths are of the two-toed variety, while three-toed sloths consist of Brown-throated (Bradypus variegatus), Maned (Bradypus torquatus), Pale-throated (Bradypus tridactylus), and Pygmy (Bradypus pygmaeus). For more detailed information about the different types of sloths, check out my article titled, “Different Types Of Sloths – How Many Are There?“.

 

Do Any Of These Sloths Eat?

Generally speaking, sloths eat mostly leaves while they’re in their habitat of Central and South American rainforests, which does not provide many calories for them. Because of their slow metabolism, however, they don’t need much food in order to survive. In addition to leaves, let’s now look more specifically at some other “items” that each of the six species of sloths may consider as food products:

  • Hoffman’s (Choloepus hoffmanni) sloth – this particular sloth will also eat buds, flowers, fruit, shoots, twigs, and (every once in awhile) insects.
  • Linnaeus’s (Choloepus didactylus) sloth – this particular sloth seems to enjoy a bit of a variety of food items as it will also eat berries, blossoms, buds, eggs of birds, fruit, insects, nestlings, mice, rats, and twigs.
  • Brown-throated (Bradypus variegatus) sloth – this particular sloth will also eat flowers and fruit.
  • Maned (Bradypus torquatus) sloth – this particular sloth will also eat buds and twigs.
  • Pale-throated (Bradypus tridactylus) sloth – this particular sloth will also eat buds and twigs.
  • Pygmy (Bradypus pygmaeus) sloth – this particular sloth will also eat buds and twigs. According to Animal Welfare Institute, “Pygmy three-toed sloths have been primarily recorded in the red mangrove forests…They mainly feed on mangrove leaves, which puts the population at risk when the mangrove forests are logged.”

So, all sloths do indeed eat but they do not get very many calories with those foods (low caloric intake is one of the reasons why sloths move so slowly). To learn more about this, as well to learn about some of the other reasons why sloths move so slowly, check out my article titled, “Why Do Sloths Move Slowly? It’s About Survival“.

Check out this video of a two-toed sloth enjoying some yummy food, which was posted on November 27, 2018 by Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

 

What Was A Sloth’s Diet Like Way Back When?

At one period of time during their amazing history, sloths were not the cute creatures that they are today (that is hard to believe, isn’t it!). Some of these monsters were huge – 20 feet long, 12 feet tall, and 5,000+ lbs!

According to Animals Network, “Giant sloths were herbivores, which means they ate plants. These creatures used their large bodies to reach the tops of trees, but also ate bushes and shrubbery as well. Researchers believe their diet consisted mostly of grasses, agave plants, yuccas, and more.”

To learn more about these monsters from the past, check out my articles titled, “Where Did Giant Ground Sloths Live? Certainly Not In Trees Like Today’s Sloths Do!” and “Evolution Of Sloths – A Bit Of History“.

 

These Animals Can Go How Long Without Food?!?!

While researching for this part of my article, I was very surprised at some of the information that I discovered – you might be, too! Take a look at this:

  • Crocodiles can survive up to three years without food (okay, that is quite awhile).
  • The African lungfish (which I had never heard of before doing my research for this article) can live up to five years without food (okay, that is a long time).
  • The olm (another animal that I had never heard of before doing my research for this article) can survive up to ten years without food (ten years – okay, that is such a long time).
  • The tardigrade (you may have guessed it…..I had never heard of this animal before doing my research for this article, either) can live up to a staggering 30 years without food! 30 years – wow!

 

The End Of Our Food Journey

In this particular article, I went on a food journey with you in an attempt to answer the question, “Do sloths eat?”. I did so by presenting the different species of sloths that currently exist, discussing if some (or all) of them eat, talking about the eating habits of extinct sloths from the past, and highlighting a list of animals that can go a very long time without eating.

To answer our question…..yes, all sloths do indeed eat. While they may not get much in the way of calories (since leaves are their number one food item), sloths have survived on this planet in one form or another for over 35 million years, so they must be doing something right.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I hope that I have been able to provide you with some new and interesting information in this article. If you have any comments or questions that you’d like to make, please feel free to do so below and I will be sure to reply.

If you’d like a little more sloth in your life or are thinking about a gift for someone else, check out my Product Reviews and Shop For Sloth Items for some ideas.

2 comments

  • SO the sloths do eat a variety of foods, well kind of! However it’s limited because they really don’t need it due to their slow metabolism. I did not know they ate twigs too!
    I also found about other animals who can live without food for up to 30 years! That’s like a wow! How long do these animals live up to, just out of interest? 🙂

    Thank you.

    • Twigs, leaves, buds, flowers – sloths sure do enjoy “yummy” foods lol.

      When discussing tardigrades (who can live without food for up to 30 years), here is a bit more information regarding this:

      Under “normal” circumstances, the life expectancy of a tardigrade would only be from a few months to about two and a half years. However, this particular animal is able to enter into a cryptobiotic state (which is almost like being frozen in time or in an extremely low metabolic state for a period of time). After this state of cryptobiosis ends, the tardigrade is able to be brought back to life.

      According to Discover, “Japanese researchers successfully brought two tardigrades…back to life after being frozen for 30 years.”

      According to Animal Diversity Web, “The aging process may be halted during cryptobiosis.”

      According to The BBC, “In 1948, the Italian zoologist Tina Franceschi claimed that tardigrades found in dried moss from museum samples over 120 years old could be reanimated. After rehydrating a tardigrade, she observed one of its front legs moving.”

      There is even talk of tardigrades that were discovered in 2,000 year old ice that became alive again.

      A lot of wows for me – writing this article and researching to find an answer to your question.

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