Pygmy Three-toed Sloth

North America


Bradypus pygmaeus


The sharp decrease in the population of the Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth is caused by the following:

  •  Logging of mangrove forests where they live
  • Lack of main food source: mangrove leaves
  • Weak defense against predators when they descend to the forest floor
  • Hunting for capture or commercial display
  • Lack of legal protection

The population of the pygmy three-toed sloth, Panama’s endemic creatures, is down to its last hundred despite of its recent recognition as a distinct species back in 2001.

The world’s smallest sloth and slowest mammal, also called dwarf sloth, can only be found in the red mangrove forests of the uninhabited Isla Escudo de Veraguas. Since more and more mangrove trees have been cut down in the area, it only decreased its already small habitat.

The destruction of its primary residence results to difficult access to mangrove leaves (its main food source) and disturbance of normal activities such as sleeping, breeding, and evasion of predators.

This docile, slow-moving arboreal (tree-living) species is characterised by its hairy bodies, flat snouts, and greenish-hued coat. Its long, sharp claws are adapted for gripping trees where they sleep for up to 20 hours a day. Though it has a thick hide, its weak hind legs makes them vulnerable to predator attacks during its once-a-week descent to the ground for defecation.