Behavior

Choloepus is solitary and arboreal. Adults maintain a territory that encompasses a wide variety of tree and vine species. Sloths prefer trees in their home range; they are chosen primarily because of a heavy concentration of lianas in the crowns. Sloths are nocturnal, and use vine-covered trees for resting and sleeping during the day, because predators cannot approach without alerting the sloth. Choloepus is slow moving (as possibly were the extinct sloths), a behavior partially attributable to the low amounts of energy obtainable from the animals' diet as well as a strategy that assists the animals to avoid predators by remaining cryptic. Choloepus has grooves in the outer guard hairs of its coat that house two species of blue green algae that turn the sloths a greenish color, especially during the wet season. It would be reason

A southern two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) hanging by its hind legs. (Photo by Erwin & Peggy Bauer. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

able to assume that the fur of some West Indian sloths also housed algae that enhanced their ability to blend into their environment.

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