Costa Rica: Three-toed Sloths at Bijagua Sloth Reserve
You can’t come to Costa Rica and not see the three-toed sloth. We saw a couple in the trees at Arenal and another one in Monteverde, but all were rather distant views. And then purely accidentally, I came across a mention of a community run little preserve near the Volcan Tenorio National Park. We didn’t have high expectations but decided to check it out, despite the pouring rain. The small reserve is really nothing more then a patch of rainforest sandwiched between two rivers, but it’s a natural path between two large blocks of protected national park areas. The sloth come here and are frequently spotted. Right from the getgo we saw a sloth on a small tree literally within a hand’s reach. Totally insane! Then another one in the tree, and another right after, and the forth one within minutes. Then it got totally surreal – two mother sloths on the same tree with small 1-2 month old baby sloths in tact! And they were moving (very slowly), climbing up and down and eating leaves (babies were also eating). We stood there, totally mesmerized for an hour in a pouring torrential rain. All in all, we saw 10 three-toed sloths. The brown-throated three-toed sloth is the most common species of the sloths in Central and South America. It is the world’s slowest mammal, traveling at the top speed of 0.24 km per hour (0.15 mph). They are so sedentary that algae grows on their furry coat (that’s the green hue in pictures, it’s not their natural fur color). The three-toed sloth is arboreal (tree-dwelling), with a body adapted to hang by its limbs, often upside down. Sloths have extra neck vertebrae and can turn their heads 270 degrees. Sloths sleep 15 to 20 hours every day. Unlike most other mammals, they do not fully maintain a constant body temperature. Sloths mate while hanging in the trees, and females give birth to a single baby after a gestation period of around six months. The baby continues hanging on its mother for the next nine months! And last but not least – sloths only come down to the ground around once a week – to poop!