Captive Sloth Biology
With such a limited range of scientific knowledge available on the biology of sloths, it poses clear problems for the conservation and captive management of the animals in terms of both veterinary care and the identification of the most favourable conditions in which to maintain them in.
This study employed the use of the Daily Diary to document the effect of the captive environmental conditions on the temperature regulation, activity level, respiration rate and food intake of three-fingered sloths. Data was collected on a strict, 4 hour cycle, 24 hours a day for 12 months, making this the most detailed and in-depth study of captive sloth biology to date. We discovered some extraordinary facts that disprove many existing theories, including the finding that three-fingered sloths only consume, on average, 68g (dry weight) of leaves per day – that is roughly the equivalent of two slices of white bread! This is a very small amount of daily food consumption compared to other mammals of the same size. With their incredibly slow digestive rate, this means that sloths constantly have a full stomach and so they really can’t eat that much on a daily basis. The leaves that they do consume, they thoroughly digest!