The Maned Sloth: Species Facts & Characteristics

maned sloth climbing tree
A maned sloth in Certosa di Pisa Mammal Gallery. Source

The sloth is an animal species known for slow movements, clawed toes, and frequent appearances on cute animal videos. However, most people don't know that there are four types of three-fingered sloths, all with unique physiological and personality characteristics.

The Maned Sloth is a type of sloth you may recognize for its distinct physical features. Let's dive into the animal's lifestyle, habits, and other interesting facts about the Bradypus Torquatus.

Geographic Range

The creature, known scientifically as the Bradypus Torquatus, lives in the coastal areas of the Brazilian rainforest. The animals pop up in patches specifically within Bahia, Espírito Santo, and Rio de Janeiro. The Maned Sloth lives in a neotropical region as a native/endemic species.


The Bradypus Torquatus lives among the trees, found at altitudes as high as 1000 meters in some cases. Most are found within the Espírito Santo area, which is hilly and ranges in average altitude between 600 and 800 meters. 

Espírito Santo's climateis cold compared to the rest of Brazil, with average highs at 30 degrees Celsius (which is still pretty hot). The area receives a plethora of rain and sunshine, whether winter or summer. Overall, the region is:

  • Tropical, terrestrial
  • A forest — rainforest
  • Riparian

Physical Description

Within the Bradypus genus, all species have a green tint to their fur due to algae growth on the hairs. The fur of the maned sloth grows from the hind legs to the head because these animals spend most of their lives suspended upside down in trees. The fur, which sheds water quickly, grows to be about 15 centimeters in length and looks like a mane. 

For mating purposes, the male Bradypus Torquatus grows a black mane around its neck. Their necks make them peculiar because they have abnormal numbers of cervical vertebrae, which allows them to rotate more than 90 degrees. Because they have long limbs and three toes per appendage, they are the largest of their genus. 

The females are, generally, larger than the males. Plus, the females in higher altitudes are larger than those in lower altitudes. 


Male Maned Sloths fight for access to females. In general, females choose larger and more powerful mates. The darkness of the fur and the mane of their neck mane are indicators of health and vitality. Once they've shown their prowess, males may mate with multiple females. The copulating pairs can be seen locked in a tight embrace while still suspended upside down from the trees.  

Typical breeding seasons last between September and November. Female maned sloths are pregnant for 6 months before giving birth to a single offspring, which clings to them for 6 to 9 months. In addition to 4 months of breastfeeding, the babies ingest leaves from the moment they are born. After 8 to 11 months, the children leave their parents. 


The information available on the lifespan of the Bradypus Torquatus is limited since the animals do not thrive in captivity. Estimates from field observers put the longevity of the animal at around 20 years on average. The limited and specific diet could be the cause of the longer lifespan when compared to other sloths. 


The most famous fact about the maned sloth is that it moves slowly. Another interesting fact is that the animal coloring is frequently cryptic. For most of the day, the creatures feed and rest. The animals love to move and eat during the mid-morning, but they can also be nocturnal. Plus, the creatures are strictly arboreal and keep to the tree canopies. 

Sometimes though, the maned sloth moves quickly across the ground and swim to travel between forest stands. The males have a greater home range than the females. 

Communication and Perception

While they do not vocalize regularly, maned sloths produce a distinctive long, high-pitched ‘eee’ noise. The calls are most frequently heard during times of distress, such as when the animals are captured, hurt, or handled. Mating calls are also not common. The eyesight of the Bradypus Torquatus is poor, which leads scientists to believe they see in black and white. 

Food Habits

The primary food substance of the maned sloth is leaves. Sometimes, the animal will eat soft buds and twigs. The creatures regularly consume leaves from Mandevilla, Micropholis venulosa, and Ficus trees. They prefer young leaves due to easy digestion. 


The maned sloth has a few predators, such as Harpy Eagles, Jaguarundis, and Ocelets. The maned sloth uses the forest canopy as camouflage. 

Ecosystem Roles

The maned sloth impacts the growth of the trees in the area due to its leaf-eating nature. 

Conservation Status

The maned sloth is endangered due to the deforestation of the rainforest. 


The Bradypus Torquatus is an animal essential to the Brazilian rainforest. Even though the maned sloth is considered endangered, conservationists are working hard to combat the rainforest's destruction. It's up to us to protect these animals and stand up against deforestation.