The Slow Moving Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth
If you plan to spend time walking Nicaragua’s National Parks, you might come across a Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni). You have to be attentive if you hope to see one because these slow moving creatures are not so easily spotted due to their lack of movement and cleaver coloring.
The Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth in Nicaragua is unlikely to be easily confused with other sloth species. They measure roughly two feet in length and have a small, round head with a short snout and their ears are not visible beneath their hair. Their coats may vary in color from a creamy-dun to a mousy brown. If their bodies are light in color their legs and head will usually remain dark brown while their eyes, nose and the top of their heads may even be somewhat black. However coloring ranges from one place to the next ,so it is difficult to definitively remark on the coat of the Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth. Their shaggy hair is always long, however, and it seems to be particularly so around the top of the limbs. This will usually hang down as the sloth makes its way slowly about the trees and gives an almost ‘moss-like’ appearance, which, when combined with any actual moss that may start to grow on them, makes them well camouflaged. Their hair also grows from their belly to their backs and this assists in the drainage of rain water off their bodies. The creature has huge, 3-inch claws and moves with slow, deliberate movements whilst hanging upside down.
The Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth is a solitary animal which is nocturnal and lives in tree tops. In fact, their slow moving way of life is actually necessitated by their low-energy diet of leaves – as it the case for all sloths. The Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth is certainly not unique to Nicaragua. It is found throughout both Central and South America and shows a preference for secondary rainforests and deciduous forests where tree canopies are usually thick and provide plenty of coverage and food. These sloths tend to spend most of their time in trees and will even sleep, mate and give birth in trees. However, they may choose to travel over the ground in order to get to a new tree or to defecate – which they do about once every five days – and are also known to be excellent swimmers. It is not commonly known that sloths have poor eyesight and hearing and so they rely mostly on their sense of touch and smell in order to find food. Though they have many natural predators, few of these are able to get to them in their treetop homes. If they are attacked they will use their massive claws and sharp teeth in defense.
The Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth is named for German naturalist Karl Hoffmann. While the habitats of these creatures seems to be decreasing, the animals do not seem to be in a danger as of yet. So keep an eye out for these slow moving creatures the next time you visit Nicaragua. A sloth is not something many people get to see.