Many people seem to associate sloths with slow movement – and if they do, they would indeed be correct as sloths are the slowest-moving mammal (and one of the slowest-moving animals) on the planet. However, have you ever wondered how big they are? Have you every wondered how long are they? They don’t look very athletic, so perhaps you are wondering how much they weigh. This article will answer these questions, as well as the general question of, “How big are sloths?”
I will begin this article by discussing the different types of sloths that currently exist and how big they are. I will then go on to discuss some of the extinct sloths and how big they were (some of this information might surprise you…..). At the end of it all, I will have (hopefully) provided enough information so as to answer the aforementioned questions. So, let’s begin!
The Sloths That Currently Exist
Sloths have been around for millions of years (in one form of species or another). At one time, there were many species (dozens) of sloths that could be found on this planet. Today, the number of sloth species is six, which consist of the following:
- Choloepus hoffmanni (Hoffman’s sloth, a two-toed sloth)
- Choloepus didactylus (Linnaeus’s sloth, a two-toed sloth)
- Bradypus variegatus (Brown-throated sloth, a three-toed sloth)
- Bradypus torquatus (Maned sloth, a three-toed sloth)
- Bradypus tridactylus (Pale-throated sloth, a three-toed sloth)
- Bradypus pygmaeus (Pygmy sloth, a three-toed sloth)
For additional information about the sloths of today, check out my article titled, “Different Types Of Sloths – How Many Are There?”
How Big Are Today’s Sloths?
The sloths of today come in a variety of sizes, with a more specific comparison between them being summarized as follows (please note that these numbers are approximate and some rounding has occurred):
- Choloepus hoffmanni (Hoffman’s sloth) —> this sloth weighs somewhere between 2.0 and 9.0 kilograms and is between 54 and 72 centimeters long.
- Choloepus didactylus (Linnaeus’s sloth) —-> this sloth weighs between 4.0 and 8.5 kilograms with a length of between 46 and 86 centimeters.
- Bradypus variegatus (Brown-throated sloth) —> this sloth weighs somewhere within the range of 2.3 and 6.3 kilograms and is somewhere between 42 and 80 centimeters in length.
- Bradypus torquatus (Maned sloth) —> this sloth weighs in somewhere between 4.0 and 10.0 kilograms and has a length of between 55 and 75 centimeters.
- Bradypus tridactylus (Pale-throated sloth) —> this sloth weighs between 3.0 and 6.5 kilograms with a length of between 45 and 75 centimeters.
- Bradypus pygmaeus (Pygmy sloth) —> this sloth weighs somewhere within the range of 2.5 and 3.5 kilograms and has a length of between 43 and 53 centimeters.
Some Of The Sloths That No Longer Exist
Sloths have been on this planet for approximately 35 to 40 million years and some extinct species of sloths that once roamed the Earth include the following:
- Megatherium – this sloth was mega indeed!
- Thalassocnus – this sloth had dual habitats.
- Megalonyx – this sloth was also mega.
- Sibotherium Ka – this sloth is “new” to the extinct list.
How Big Were These Extinct Sloths?
While the extinct sloths of the past shared some similarities and common characteristics with today’s sloths, they were also different in some ways – including how big they were. While the sloths of today are rather small, many of the sloths of the past were anything but! Check out the sizes of these monsters:
- Megatherium —> sometimes named a “giant ground sloth”, this sloth could weigh over 5,000 lbs., grow to be 20 feet long, and be able to stand over 12 feet tall. From Greek, “megatherium” is translated to “giant beast”. This particular sloth became extinct around 11,000 years ago. A drawing of what the Megatherium sloth may have looked like is shown above.
- Thalassocnus —> this ground sloth (that also lived in the water) weighed around 110 lbs. and had a height of about 47 inches. It used its claws to go digging for food in the water. The Thalassocnus sloth became extinct around four million years ago.
- Megalonyx —> this sloth weighed up to 2,205 lbs. and had a length of between 8 and 10 feet. It was named “Megalonyx Jeffersonii”, in honor of Thomas Jefferson. This sloth became extinct around 11,000 years ago.
- Sibotherium Ka —> this sloth stood almost 10 feet tall and was recently added to the list of sloths that used to exist. It was still around approximately 5.8 million years ago.
For more information about some of the sloths that are now extinct, check out my article titled, “Evolution Of Sloths – A Bit Of History“.
Sizes Of Sloths – Current Ones Versus Extinct Ones
In today’s article, I provided some information about the different types of sloths that exist today (and how big they are), and also talked about some of the extinct sloths that once roamed the Earth (and how big they were). Clearly, there is a vast difference between the sizes of current sloths and the sizes of extinct ones.
For me, it is rather difficult to imagine the sloth as being anything other than the gentle, cute, lovable, and adorable creatures that they are today. However, when I read about some of the extinct species of sloths, I can see that they were different in some ways to the sloths of today. If nothing else, it makes me think about the incredible evolutionary journey that sloths have taken to become the wonderful animals that they are today. They have evolved and adapted for over 35 million years – and they have survived. Only time will tell, but I believe that sloths will continue to evolve, adapt, and survive well into the future. To read more about sloth adaptations, check out my article titled, “Sloth Adaptations – Such Amazing Animals!”
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed researching it and writing it, and hopefully you learned something new today. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below and I will be sure to reply.
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