Bradypus’s Sloth Page


With only a small population confined to a single tiny island off the coast of Panama, the pygmy three-toed sloth is the most endangered of all the sloths. This recently discovered species is a dwarf compared with the sloths that are common on the mainland. Pygmy sloths have an unusual means of camouflage to avoid predation; their outer fur is often coated in algae, giving the pelage a greenish tint that helps hide them in their forest habitat. Three-toed sloths can be distinguished from their distant relatives, the two-toed sloths, by the three digits on their forelimbs, blunter muzzle, and simpler, peg-like teeth.




Habitat: Pygmy three-toed sloths spend most of their lives in trees, though they must descend to the ground to urinate and defecate. They can only crawl while on the ground, though they are good swimmers. In the trees, they hook themselves securely to branches with the three large claws on each of their feet. They often hang upside down from branches while in the trees. Their sole food is the leaves of the red mangrove trees where they live.


Location: Separated from the Panamanian coast by 17 kilometres of ocean, the island of Escudo de Veraguas is the only home of the pygmy three-toed sloth. The sloths live only in red mangroves found in a narrow band along the seaside, which are estimated to cover just 1.5 square kilometres.

Critically endangered





Major Threats

Although the island is uninhabited, there are seasonal visitors (fishermen, lobster divers, tourists, and local people) who harvest timber to maintain wooden houses on the island.  Habitat destruction remains the species largest threat.


The current status of the island’s custody is vague; a governmental resolution, and thus the protected status of the island, cannot be revoked, but no government staff has been appointed specifically to enforce protection of the island. Ongoing disagreements between the local Ngäbe bugle Comarca, regional politicians, and the Panamanian government are further complicating long-term protection of the island and the pygmy sloths. Additionally, as pygmy sloths have become more widely recognized internationally, there is growing interest in collecting them for captivity. has not been researched enough to report details but female pygmy three-toed sloths invest heavily in young through gestation and lactation.   Details of parental care are not reported for pygmy three-toed sloths, but related species care for their young for up to 6 months.