Ivy is a Linne’s two-toed sloth, one of our four here in the Aquarium’s Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. The other sloths are Ivy’s off-spring, two of which are now fully grown. The third, a pint-sized version of mom, rests gently on her belly.
The young sloth’s name is Fern. At only a few months old, Fern is covered in plush brown fur, a contrast to Ivy’s coarse coat. Staff estimate her weight to be around two pounds. Baby sloths like Fern spend nearly a year clinging to their mothers before venturing out on their own.
At such a young age, Fern has yet to master the art of eating upside down and is still exploring solid foods.
The Aquarium’s sloths eat a commercial leaf-eater biscuit and a variety of fruits and veggies, such as zucchini, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, green beans and apples. They are cut into long strips, so the sloths can easily pick them up! Sloths have four-chambered stomachs filled filled with bacteria, which help to break down tough foliage and other food.
If you peek inside Ivy’s mouth, you’ll see a set of large teeth. These modified canines are permanently tinted yellow; unlike humans, a sloth’s teeth have no enamel!
A balanced diet is important for sloths, because they need the proper fuel for their active lifestyles. Yes, you read that right...active.
Although it is true that two-toed sloths like to snooze—sometimes for 15 to 20 hours a day—they are hardly lazy. In fact, sloths are nocturnal and spend most of their nights in the Aquarium moving around. During the day, the sloths sleep soundly and won’t pay much mind to small disturbances.
At Home In The Trees
Two- and three-toed sloths are uniquely adapted to life in the trees. Their claws are perfectly suited for tightly gripping branches, or, in Fern’s case, climbing onto Ivy. Sloths typically only journey tot he ground to defecate, and even that only happens around once every two weeks.
Sloths spend a lot of time upside down. They eat, sleep, mate and even give birth upside down! Last April, staff was lucky enough to witness Ivy giving birth to Fern.
Learn more about the Aquarium’s sloths here.