Sloth – Pet Sloths

Sloth – Pet Sloths
Every since my daughter’s early years she has wanted a pet sloth. It all started when she received a plush animal sloth whose arms wrapped around her neck. I wasn’t usually one to turn down pet or exotic pet requests. I suggested we learn about sloths and meet a few up close and personal.

I’m not real sure if the actual sloth and the plushy sloth got in a race who would be the winner. I think I’d wager on the plushy.

Now, put aside for now everything I have taught you about exotic pets –it probably doesn’t apply to the sloth. Except for the last article Exotic Pets – Be Realistic

They are so slow moving they can get a greenish bluish cast because algae will grow on their fur. If algae can catch up, that is S L O W. The alga gives them the perfect camouflage to blend into the trees. It is also the perfect symbiotic relationships because the sloth can absorb the nutrients of the algae. Normally they are tan/brownish/gray in color, with long arms, and a slight bandit look to their flattish face.

There are two different species of sloths; two- toed (choloepus hoffmanni, and three- toed (bradypus variegates). It is believed the two different species came from two different lineages. The two-toed from the extinct Giant Ground Sloths. They are from Central America and South America. Most sloths live in the rainforests. Two toed sloths are normally a bit larger than the three-toed sloths. Two toed sloths have longer arms than three-toed sloths.

A note of interest, some scientist believes that the elusive Big Foot, Yeti, or Sasquatch, depending on country of origin, came from the extinct Giant Ground Sloths (giant sloth).

Two-toed sloths are most commonly found as pets. For some strange reason many three-toed sloths don’t do as well in captivity.

Sloths are quite long-lived, life expectancy ranging from 30-40 years possibly longer when kept as pets. They would have no natural enemies while living under the confines of captivity, and would have the benefits of veterinarians. Though, I won’t promise as an average, that all pet sloths live long healthy lives because too many people don’t have an understanding how different the needs are of these beautiful animals, especially their diet.

They can make delightfully affectionate pets. They can be quite slow-moving but that certainly can have its advantages. They love to be embraced. For those that like clingy pets the sloth can be ideal.

A two-toed sloth is nocturnal meaning they sleep at night, for that matter part of the day too, sleeping around 18-20 hours a day. Then again, so do ferrets. Except that sloths sleep upside down and ferrets don’t. The three-toed sloth is diurnal.

I don’t believe they deserve their bad reputation of being lazy. They can be quite advantageous, deemed conservationists because they take so little from the environment and give back so much. Their ill repute can be found in the Bible –“American King James Version Hebrews 6:12 “That you be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Because of the long large claws, quite hooked shaped, people may think they are aggressive mean animals, instead they are quite unaggressive. Of course there are always the minority of animals on the negative side of normal just as humans are, and can be quite belligerent.

Sloths spend almost all their time in trees. They are powerful climbers and can grip the tree firmly with their claws. These same claws virtually give them a death sentence when they are on the ground; the curved paws make it very difficult for them to walk. They become easy prey. However, they are great swimmers.

See why sloths don’t do so well walking on the ground. After seeing this video you will see why they rarely come down out of their tree.
Three-toed sloth road escort

Sloths have their babies while in the trees. The female sloth could win the mother of the year award – the infants stay steadfastly attached to their mother, being meticulously cared for, until they are ready to be on their own in about six months. The babies are weaned at six weeks. They gestation period is about six months. Once a year they normally give birth to one baby.

Three-toed sloths are obligatory leaf eaters (arboreal folivores). They have a unique digestive system with multiple stomachs and pouches. The two toed sloth eats leaves, buds, fruit, and tender twigs.

Sloths require special food. Please learn everything there is to know about what trees are poisonous before gathering leaves and twigs from outside. There is also a good possibility that the trees have been sprayed with toxins.

I suspect that both varieties of sloths eat bugs. Since their fur is host for many types of parasites, the sloth scratches (a lot) and the sloth eats the bugs off of their claws. I deduced that this is how the sloth gets protein in their diet.

Since they metabolize their food very slowly they eliminate infrequently, however when they do purge there is a lot of volume.

Diet Marion Leaf Eater Food
Marion Zoological
2003 E. Center Circle Plymouth, MN 55441.
Phone (800) 327-7974.
Outside the United States Phone: (763) 559-3305

Legalities and permits
Born Free USA has a partial list of legalities of owning many wild pets. Every state, county, city, or even local municipality can be different. They do have a contact email to potentially lend you a hand. The sloth would likely need a federal permit as well. Contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In countries other than US, contact the similar authorities to get you on the right track. In addition, keep in mind the number of exotic pet laws that have recently been change in many different countries. What you find on a website today might be ancient news.

Born Free USA

Your sloth will need a large and tall cage and will have to have a tree or large heavy branch with boughs heavy enough to support the sloth. The cage would likely be mandated by the USDA and perhaps your state and local authorities.

Animals cannot be caged all the time and will need time to socialize with you. They will do quite well in your home. Rarely destructive and they certainly don’t mind vegging on the couch. They would enjoy a set of monkey bars or similar play equipment on which to climb. They would enjoy a hanging bed, like a hammock in a quiet part of the house.

The sloth has unusual fur. On many parts of the body the fur points up or sideways instead of pointing toward the rear of the pet. They also have somewhat of a natural (as we part our hair) division to aid the sloth during the heavy rains in a rain forest. The rain just runs down the top of the fur.

They do enjoy being groomed and should be groomed. They do scratch a lot. They do have parasites in their fur as well as gastrointestinal parasites. The bugs in their fur are natural for the sloth another example of our little conservators and their symbiotic relationships with nature. The sloth should be checked by an exotic pet veterinarian familiar with sloths for gastrointestinal parasites. Coccidia are just one example of the parasites that the sloth may harbor.

The sloth is a very different exotic pet and I cannot stress enough to gain as much knowledge as possible and gain firsthand experience before obtaining a sloth such as volunteer work. Enjoy the following sloth pictures and sloth videos!

New sloth pictures
Sloth eating grapes. This sloth pictures was taken locally at an educational presentation. We really enjoyed the presentation. The sloth was adorable.

More pictures of sloths

Comments and questions Comment here or ask questions

Chasing (cute title). Here is an exotic pet breeder of more unusual animals such as the sloth

Exotic Animals for Sale

This site has a great search engine to find exotic pet classifieds. I did hit on some sloths for sale and sloth breeders.

Exotic Pets For Sale

Sloth pictures and pictures of sloth, sloth videos, sloths giving birth

Documented videos of "Live Birth of Captive Born Baby Two-Toed Linnaeus' Sloth" by Chasing

Cute and very funny sloth videos from a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica (sloth orphanage video)

The Funniest Baby Sloth Video Ever

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Sloths (Animals That Live in the Rain Forest)

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