Hoffmann's two-toed sloth
Choloepus hoffmanni

C. hoffmanni has two disjunct populations. The northernmost population ranges from Nicaragua south into western Venezuela. The southern population is found from north-central Peru through extreme western Brazil (south-western Amazonas and probably Acre states) to central Bolivia. There is a doubtful, outlying record for this species from the Rio Aripuanã, Mato Grosso state, Brazil (Fonseca and Aguiar, 2004). Its range within Brazil is unclear, and further surveys are needed. This species ranges from sea level to 3,300 m asl in Costa Rica; up to 1,925 m asl in Panama; and up to 1,150 m asl in the southern Andes of Venezuela. In Colombia, the species is found in the biogeographical regions of the Andean zone, Caribbean and Chocó, more specifically in the departments of Cauca, Chocó, Cundinamarca, Nariño, Quindío, Sucre, Valle del Cauca, and Santanderes from sea level up to 3,000 m asl (Alberico et al., 2000; Moreno, 2003; Acevedo and Sanchez, 2007).


This arboreal mammal has nocturnal and solitary habits. The color of its pelage varies geographically from brown or mocha to very pale or almost whitish. The hair on the abdomen and chest is shorter and lighter-colored than the hair on the back, which is long, thick, undulating and slightly greenish on the shoulders. The head is round, sometimes of a lighter color than the body. The prominent ears are hidden in the fur, and the face bears a brown, hairless, protuberant snout. There is a rhomb-shaped pale spot on the throat, which contrasts with the chest color. The anterior, caniniform teeth are long, triangular and sharp. The forelimbs are long and bear two digits with long claws. The hindlimbs have three digits and are shorter than the forelimbs. The palms are brown and hairless. Two-toed sloths lack a prominent tail.


The Hoffmann's two-toed sloth is found in lowland and montane tropical forest, both deciduous and mixed-deciduous. In Central America, it occurs in evergreen and semi-deciduous tropical moist forest as well as in secondary forest, but it is rare or absent in lowland dry forest. In Costa Rica, it is able to use cocoa plantations as habitat and frequently ventures into relatively open pastures in search of isolated feeding trees (Vaughan et al., 2007). It can also occur in dry grassland with thorny shrubs and trees (Nicaragua; Genoways and Timm, 2003).


These sloths are rather solitary. Their herbivore-omnivore diet consists mainly of leaves, fruits and sap of some trees. Both genders reach reproductive maturity at three years of age. Gestation length is approximately 11 months.
They occur at densities of 1.05 animals per hectare on Barro Colorado Island, Panama (Montgomery and Sunquist, 1975). Hoffman’s two-toed sloths have been found at densities of 0.3 to 1.5 animals per hectare in the Andean region of Colombia, while densities in the lowlands of northern Colombia were 0.2 to 0.83 individuals per hectare (Alvarez, 2004; Acevedo and Sanchez, 2007).


It appears that there are no major threats to C. hoffmanni at the global level. Nevertheless, populations in the northwestern part of its range, especially in Colombia and Central America, are declining due to severe habitat degradation and fragmentation. Furthermore, they are hunted by indigenous communities. Wild-caught individuals, especially offspring, are sold as pets to tourists in Colombia (Moreno and Plese, 2006). This illegal trade is increasing and represents a cause of concern due to its impact on the wild populations.


This two-toed sloth is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, its occurrence in a number of protected areas, its tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a threatened category. However, because of ongoing deforestation, the northern population (nominate subspecies) of this species could potentially be assessed as Near Threatened.

C. hoffmanni is present in many protected areas. It is included in CITES Appendix III for Costa Rica. Further research is needed to establish whether there are taxonomic differences between the two disjunct populations. Ongoing education and awareness programs are carried out by Fundación AIUNAU in Colombia.


Additional information and a complete list of references can be found in: Superina, M., T. Plese, N. Moraes-Barros and A.M. Abba (2010): The 2010 Sloth Red List Assessment. Edentata 11(2): 115-134. This article is available here.

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