What is a Sloth's Fur Like? Is it soft?

One of the unique and most beautiful features of sloth is their fur. Despite living in a warm-weather habitat, sloth’s fur is made up of long hairs. (This is actually because sloths have very little fat, so they could lose their body temperature quite easily if it weren’t for their fur.) 

What are the different colors that a sloth can have? Sloths can vary in color quite a bit, from beige, or even white, to sloths with a mixture of light and dark colors. On top of that, sloths have the unique color among mammals of being green. 

Two-Toed Sloths

The fur of two-toed sloth is different from their three-toed cousins in that the Hoffman’s and Linnaeus’s sloth have longer hair, especially around the abdomen. 

The Hoffman’s two-toed sloth has a light colored fur on the throat and head.

The Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth has a darker color fur on its throat.

Also, on a near microscopic level the two-toed sloths have long grooves along their hair, which is different from the fur on the three-toed sloth that have tiny transverse sloths.

That texture on the sloth’s fur makes it ideal for collecting moisture and serves as a place for organisms to nest or take root.  This can lead to the three-toed sloths having more green algae in their fur. 

However, given the light color the Hoffman’s two-toed sloth, the algae color gives their fur a very green color:

When scientists studied sloths, they found that most species had algae in their hair. The ones that didn’t have algae primarily were sloths from dryer climates. The other sloths without algae were baby sloths. It seems, though, that once those sloths get older the algae appears. The curious thing is that the algae in the young sloths is genetically related, as in the direct offspring of the algue on the mama sloth. So, the same sloth families have the same algae families.

Having the green algae in their fur serves as camouflage for sloths. Remember, a sloth spends most of her time sleeping in a tree, and when awake she is still kind of a sitting duck for predators (or maybe a ‘slouching sloth’?), but that slothy slowness combined with the green plant color provided by the algae actually becomes a defense for the sloth—they end up simply looking like part of the forest and predators leave them alone.

Learn more about the green fur phenomenon:

Three-Toed Sloths

The three-toed sloth is the more well-known image of a sloth. Focusing on the difference of their fur, there is a darker colored fur that runs right around the eyes in a way that looks like a mask. There is also sometimes a bit of fur that gives the three-toed sloth a more colorful look.

Likewise, the dark fur frames the entire face of the sloth.

This great picture of a three-toed sloth is available for purchase on Amazon.

Finally, please take a moment to appreciate the fur of this plush sloth:

The fur on this stuffed sloth from Light Autumn is long, beautiful and SOFT. Check him out on their website and we think you will want to get one for yourself.

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