An unusual sloth sighting

Published July 02, 2010

Every morning the Aquarium's Rainforest staff takes inventory of the animals since most of them have a free range of the habitat each day. It is often a challenge to locate all three of the Rainforest sloths since they hide in the trees. On one particular morning they were conspiring  together on the back wall, which is a very rare sight! Clockwise they are;  Deb (Aquarium staff), Syd, Ivy, and Howie. Hmm, what were those sloths up to?  Sloth social behaviors are poorly understood and observations of this sort assist us in developing a greater understanding of sloth biology. We know that they are generally considered solitary animals, but some species of sloths have been seen occupying the same desirable trees and sleep spots in the wild. Often our Rainforest sloths can be seen alone or near just one other, so this sighting was a very interesting observation. So, why were they? It may be that all three sloths were getting too warm in the treetops and retreated to cooler air.  It is a possibility that it was simply coincidental, and after their nightly dinner exhibit rounds they ended up together by daybreak. It may even mean that the sloths were engaging in another hoped for reproductive event! Look for Howie’s large and very sharp ‘canine-like’ premolars.  Sloths were at one time called Edentates, or toothless mammals.  Today they are correctly referred to as Xenarthrans (which is why our baby sloth has been named Xeno), a taxonomic group that also includes armadillos and anteaters.  If you look at Ivy’s feet you will notice that the hind foot has three toes/claws and the front foot has two toes/claws.  Two toed sloths are sometimes referred to as two-fingered sloths for this reason.
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