Sloths are tree-dwelling tropical mammals of Central and South America. They live in the rainforest canopy and are known for their slow and deliberate movements.
There are two living families of sloths: two-fingered and three-fingered. These families used to be called “two-toed” and “three-toed” but that was incorrect– all sloths have three toes on their hind limbs, only the forelimbs have different numbers of fingers.
Sloths are mysterious and unusual animals that scientists still know very little about. They have many adaptations that make them unique among mammals; they have a very efficient metabolism that is excellent at conserving energy, they are masters of disguise that can fool all the senses of their predators, and they are the slowest moving mammals on the planet: a sloth at top speed can cover only 1 meter in 1.5 seconds. That is only 1.5 miles per hour!
Most of what we think we know about sloths comes from sloths in zoos, but many animals live and behave very differently in captivity than they do in the wild. To study wild sloths in their natural environment, scientists must go deep into the jungles where they live and invent new ways to find and observe these enigmatic animals.