Language English Photo: Biodôme Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Davepape - Buffalo Zoo) Photo: Biodôme OngletsDescriptionDistinguishing featuresThis two-toed sloth from South America has a rough, stiff coat of greyish-brown or beige fur, up to 15 cm long, growing from its belly toward its back. It is tailless and has two toes on its forelimbs and three on its hind limbs. Each toe bears a powerful, curved claw, up to 7 cm long. Its teeth, which lack enamel, grow continuously. ReproductionFemales reach sexual maturity at three years and males at four or five, after which the breeding cycle is 14 to 16 months. During mating season, sloths sound plaintive cries. Males mark their territory with their scent to attract females. The male and female stay joined for 48 hours during mating. Gestation lasts 10½ to 11 months. The female bears a single offspring (weighing 300 to 400 g). The baby grasps the fur on its mother's chest for 6 to 9 months before becoming independent. For its entire life, it will eat only those foods to which it was introduced by its mother. DietTwo-toed sloths eat mainly leaves, including cecropia leaves, as well as young shoots, small branches, buds, flowers, fruit and tuberous roots. They also eat insects and sometimes even small animals, including baby birds. Their metabolism is very slow, barely 40 to 45% that of other mammals the same size. Their stomachs are divided into compartments containing bacteria that digest plant cellulose. It may take them close to a month to digest some foods. They eat plants that other animals will not eat. PredatorsIn the trees, their enemies are raptors, including harpie eagles. On the ground, their main enemies are felines, such as jaguarundis and ocelots. Predators have trouble spotting them, mostly because they stay so still. Hidden in the branches, curled comfortably into a ball, they resemble a termite mound or pile of dead leaves and simply go unnoticed by predators. If attacked, however, they defend themselves with their long nails and teeth. HabitatSouthern two-toed sloths live in tropical forests in South America, east of the Andes, mostly in Colombia, Ecuador and the Amazon basin in Brazil. They spend most of their time in the trees, rarely descending to the ground. They live very high in the forest canopy, at altitudes of up to 2100 m. Ecology, behaviourTwo species of microscopic algae grow in their fur. This means that their fur turns greenish during the rainy season and yellow in the dry season. The algae help camouflage them in the trees. Insects also take refuge in their fur—as many as nine different moth species and four beetle species. One study found 100 moths and 1000 beetles on a single individual. Sloths move only 0,5 to 1,5 km/h. On the ground, they have to crawl, but they are good swimmers. French nameParesseux à deux doigts Scientific nameCholoepus didactylusPhylumChordataClassMammaliaOrderXenarthraFamilyMegalonychidaeSizeLength: 60 to 85 cmWeight4 to 8.1 kgLife spanIn the wild: 12 years; in captivity: 31 years or moreStatusSloths' survival is tied to the conservation of the tropical forest. They are hunted for their meat.