Sloth Predators – There Are Several Of Them

Predators and prey…’s all part of the animal kingdom and the ecosystem. As part of this animal kingdom, we have sloths, who are one of the slowest-moving animals on the planet. Because of this fact, one might assume that sloths would be easy targets for all animals. However, this is not necessarily the case as sloth predators can have difficulties going after their sloth prey.

That is what this article is going to be discussing – predators of sloths. I will do so by discussing predators that are from the animal kingdom, as well as discussing how sloths are able to protect themselves from their predators. I will then go on to talk about predators that are from the human kingdom, as well as a couple of predators that might surprise you. At the end of it all, I hope to have informed you and provided you with some useful information. So, let’s begin…..


Predators Of Sloths That Are From The Animal Kingdom

The three main predators of sloths that come from the animal kingdom are jaguars, ocelots, and harpy eagles. Let’s discuss each of these predators in a bit more detail.

The jaguar:

  • has the scientific name of “Panthera onca”.
  • is one of the largest cats on the planet (only lions and tigers are bigger).
  • can weigh almost 350 lbs. (over 157 kg.).
  • knows how to swim very well.
  • is very muscular.
  • is threatened by human activities including habitat destruction and trafficking.


The ocelot:

  • has the scientific name of “Leopardus pardalis”.
  • is definitely not one of the largest cats on the planet but is still a predator nonetheless (according to National Geographic, ocelots are “twice the size of the average house cat”).
  • can weigh up to 35 lbs. (almost 16 kg.).
  • is related to the margay and the oncilla.
  • is threatened by human activities including habitat destruction and poaching.


The harpy eagle:

  • has the scientific name of “Harpia harpyja”.
  • is considered a bird of prey.
  • can weigh up to 20 lbs. (over 9 kg.).
  • is threatened by human activities including habitat destruction and hunting.

While the jaguar, ocelot, and harpy eagle may have many differences, they also have some similarities, too. One similarity that is glaringly obvious to me (and that is sadly occurring with so many other animals, as well, including sloths) is the fact that humans are huge threats to them.


What Is A Sloth To Do?

For the purposes of this article specifically, there is one more characteristic that I would like to discuss regarding jaguars, ocelots, and harpy eagles, and that is the fact that all three of these animals hunt prey visually. And one of the animals that they hunt is the sloth – one of the slowest-moving animals on the planet. So, what do sloths do to protect themselves from these three predators? Well, almost nothing…..quite literally.

By moving so slowly, sloths have various critters living on them, including algae. This algae provides them with something very important to their survival – camouflage. By using this camouflage, staying high up in the trees, and moving slowly (or staying motionless), sloths probably move so slowly that they don’t get noticed by these predators (remember, these predators all hunt prey visually and if your prey is camouflaged, is high up in the trees, and is moving slowly (if it is moving at all), imagine how much of a challenge it must be to see this prey). I think this is sloth cleverness at work!


Predators Of Sloths That Are From The Human Kingdom

I can understand the concept of predators and prey within the animal kingdom, but I have such a difficult time with humans being predators of animals. Sadly, humans have been responsible for threats to so many animals on this planet, as well as causing many to go extinct.

Sloths are certainly not exempt from predatory actions of humans, which include activities of poaching and illegal trafficking. As part of illegal smuggling of wildlife, most pet sloths are initially snatched from their homes in the rainforests of Central and South America. This is one of many reasons why owning a pet sloth is such a horrible idea. For additional information regarding my thoughts on this, check out my article titled, “Can Sloths Be Pets? They Are So Cute, But…..“.


Predators Of Sloths That Might Surprise You

With jaguars, ocelots, harpy eagles, and humans all considered predators of sloths, here are two more that might surprise you: the dog and the spectacled owl. On the rare occasions that sloths find themselves on the ground, they are almost entirely defenseless and become easy prey while there.

According to The Sloth Conservation Foundation, “Domestic and stray dog attacks are the second leading cause of death for wild sloths in Costa Rica”. As for the spectacled owl, check out this article from Treehugger, which describes how the much smaller spectacled owl became a sloth predator:


Predators And Prey Revisited

In this article, I discussed sloth predators including ones that are from the animal kingdom, ones that are from the human kingdom, and a couple that might surprise you. I also discussed how sloths are able to protect themselves from their predators.

Predators and prey are part of the animal kingdom, which I totally understand. However, what I cannot understand is how humans have become so destructive to the animals that share this planet with us. Poaching, illegal trafficking, habitat destruction, hunting for sport – there are so many human activities that are threatening to so many animals, as well as having made many of them extinct. Sloths are one of many animals that are threatened by human activities (as are jaguars, ocelots, and harpy eagles).

My wish is for humans to show the respect to these animals that they deserve and to give them a safe, secure future. There are many great organizations with many great people doing wonderful work to accomplish this, and for this they get my utmost in respect. Perhaps we can all learn a little bit about what we can do to help our friends in the animal kingdom. Perhaps we can all learn how to be good to them, as well as to each other.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I have enjoyed writing it. As always, please feel free to leave any comments or questions below and I will be sure to reply.

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  • It’s very important that we read about these animals once in a while as it helps us know more about them and also be able to render some help to them when necessary. Sloth is a really slow animal and I think that makes it an advantage and also a disadvantage to them. This is interesting to read through.

    • Michael Christmann says:

      I agree that it is important to help these animals when necessary.  As far as sloths specifically, you are indeed correct in that their slowness has advantages, as well as disadvantages.

      I’m glad that you found this article interesting to read through.  Thank you for your comments.

  • ReeceMichael says:

    There are thousands of predators out there and making sure our wildlife are safe is really good because if we leave them to the mercies of these predators that are out there to hunt them, we are bound to having them go into extinction which is not really good. I’d love to see the wildlife experts do the right thing to keep these sloths safe. 

    • Michael Christmann says:

      Seeing animals becoming extinct because of human activities is terrible.  Like you, I also love to see wildlife experts doing the right thing to keep sloths safe.

       Thank you for reading and for commenting.

  • Riaz Shah says:

    Great article Michael,

    Though many people do not care much about sloths, I really am fascinated by them as I find them very peaceful creatures. Totally forgot that they have predators to watch out for, it makes sense for jaguars to hunt them as jaguars can climb too but dogs going after them? That’s somewhat disturbing as if these sloths don’t have enough problems of their own to deal with. I hope more efforts can be done to protect nature’s creatures more, especially from humans.

    • Michael Christmann says:

      I find sloths to be fascinating creatures, too.  And I love your description of them as being “very peaceful”.

      As far as protecting nature’s creatures more (especially from humans), I am happy and encouraged to see the many kind, caring individuals and organizations that are doing just that.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this article.

  • I felt like I was first aware of sloths because I was watching an animation with my nephews and right after that I saw them everywhere! I love them though. They are such an interesting animal and they are so slow. How did they make it this far in the animal kingdom? Poor things, even the eagle can pick on them. Thank God that they have the algae trick up their sleeves. 

    It is sad that we hunt sloths… I mean what is the joy from that? I do not get it. I get joy from observing them but not killing them. 

    Thanks for bringing this awareness. I will share your post. 

    • Michael Christmann says:

      I love sloths, too…..obviously lol.  The algae trick is quite a good one for them to have, isn’t it!

      I agree with you that it is so sad to hunt and kill beautiful creatures like sloths.  I don’t understand that at all.

      Thank you for your comments and your sharing of this post.

  • Poor sloths are also having to deal with predators! I can’t imagine how it can be so scary for them. Hopefully there are some securities that are put in place for the sloth soon. It’s understandable, we cannot always protect them from their nearby predators such as jaguars.

    Many thanks for raising the awareness.

    • I agree that it must be scary for sloths (and for any animal that is hunted). And while protecting sloths from predators like jaguars may not be possible, there are many good people working hard to protect sloths from human predators, which I find very encouraging.

      Thank you for reading and for commenting.

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