Are you looking for me?
Here at EG, we’ve featured baby owls, baby seahorses and even cute cute geckos. So, since we’ve covered adorable reptiles, fish and birds, it’s now time to check out some lovable baby mammals. We don’t need to explain how irresistible these baby sloths are; you can see for yourself by looking at the photographs taken at various sanctuaries, zoos and rescue centers around the world. And while ideally they’d be clinging to their mothers in the wild, we think these little ones look pretty content where they are.
Image: Lionel Reyes
Looks like this baby sloth is having happy dreams
Sloths live in the jungles of South and Central America. You might not think that such a sedentary and slow-moving animal could be so interesting, but such characteristics are part of their appeal. Even scientists are captivated by sloths and their unusual habits. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they have those delightfully sleepy-looking eyes, and little upturned mouths that makes it look like they’re smiling.
These snoozing babies are twice as adorable.
These slumbering babies are doing exactly what we’d expect sloths to do. Until recently, people thought that sloths slept for up to 18 hours every day – that’s a lot of dreaming. However, in 2008 researchers reported that this was a gross exaggeration and that wild sloths only snooze for about nine and a half hours a day, which is not that much more than most humans.
Image: Eivind Bårdsen
Time for a bit of daydreaming
Sometimes there’s nothing better than to get all snuggly under the covers with your favorite teddy bear, as this baby sloth in Costa Rica shows. There are two different families of sloth, the two-toed Megalonychidae and the three-toed Bradypodidae – although really it’s the hands (or front feet) rather than the (back) feet that have either two or three digits. Another difference is that two-toed sloths have six vertebrae in their necks, while three-toed sloths have nine – which makes them unusually flexible; in fact, they can rotate their heads by around 270 degrees. Incidentally, most other mammals have seven of these cervical vertebrae. Despite their differences, though, both types of sloth usually inhabit the same areas.
It’s hard to tell where the teddy bear ends and the baby sloth begins.
There’s something about the way this baby sloth is gripping its teddy bear that makes us want to reach out and give it a hug. When they’re not cuddling soft toys, baby sloths use their long arms to cling on to their mothers. Baby sloths have a strong grip, and they pull themselves onto their mothers’ bellies straight after birth.
Nothing like a nice warm syringe of milk before bed
It’s dinnertime for this lucky sloth, but in the wild, infant sloths that lose their mothers are easy prey for predators. Fortunately, there are sloth sanctuaries in countries like Costa Rica (where this little one was photographed) that look after rescued baby sloths. The infants are fed goats’ milk formula as a substitute for their mother’s milk. Still, newborn sloths only need to rely on milk for up to a month, after which they move on to solid food.
I’m even cuter from this angle!
We saw this young sloth earlier on, but it’s so adorable that we had to show it again – this time from a different angle. The photograph was taken at the Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica. Since 1997, the sanctuary has looked after over 100 orphaned sloths, rearing them until they are ready to return to the wild. The sanctuary also raises awareness about the issues affecting these amazing creatures.
Hello, will you be my friend?
The sanctuary in Costa Rica also provided a home to this sweet-faced baby clutching its pink teddy bear. Who could resist such a face? Well, sloth mothers, apparently. Sometimes, baby sloths can lose their grip on their mothers and plunge to the ground. Although the fall doesn’t usually kill them, these infant sloths are likely to die of starvation or end up as prey, because sloth mothers don’t always retrieve their fallen babies. It’s believed that the mothers aren’t keen to come down from the safe haven of the trees above. Nature can certainly be cruel sometimes.
Image: David Lee
I’m a little bit shy.
This baby sloth is a long way from the Americas. It’s currently being hand-reared at Hamerton Zoo Park in the UK – a sanctuary that carries out a lot of important work for endangered species. Baby sloths, like baby humans, have to eat several times a day and need lots of attention when they’re very small. We imagine it isn’t too hard to find people willing to give their attention to such delightful babies, though.
Image: Nikki Emanuel
If you could just keep still for about nine hours, I’m going to have a nap.
This baby sloth is having a bit of a rest on somebody’s arm, which gives you an idea of just how tiny it is. There are six different species of sloths. This little one, named Han Slowlo, is a Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth. It was born at the Pueblo Zoo in Colorado to a female sloth named Chewbacca (so evidently there are lots of Star Wars fans at the zoo).
Image: Marie Sharp
Sometimes it’s hard for a little sloth to keep its eyes open.
The Jaguar Rescue Center in Costa Rica works to rescue, rehabilitate and reintroduce wild animals such as jaguars, monkeys, opossums and, of course, sloths just like the sleepy baby pictured here. Interestingly, the reason sloths seem so lethargic is their diet. Sloths eat leaves that provide little nourishment and sustenance and sometimes take over a month to digest. Thus, the sloths need to move slowly in order to conserve the little energy they get. It’s only when they are directly threatened by a predator that they pick up their pace, and this burns up a lot of calories.
Image: Ken Mayer
Go on, stroke my head; you know you want to.
Is it just us, or does this sloth look especially happy to be here? Unfortunately, the animal rescue center in Panama where this photo was taken is now closed down. As sloths are so slow moving, many organisms use them as homes. Their fur can harbor beetles, moths, cockroaches, and even a type of algae.
It’s tough when you’re more huggable than your soft toy.
This two-toed baby sloth is enjoying a bit of downtime on the grass. Wild sloths spend almost all their time in trees, where they’re safest. They only come down for their weekly trip to the bathroom, when they always go to the same spot and cover up their bodily waste afterwards. Then it’s straight back up into the trees before a predator comes along. Sloths even mate and give birth hanging from the branches.
Image: Mike Ensley
I think I need a bit of a nap.
In 2011, photographer Mike Ensley was in Costa Rica when he spotted a three-toed sloth up a tree outside his hotel room. Looking more closely, he realized that it was carrying a baby. The baby managed to get itself into a bit of trouble and ended up dangling precariously from its mother, who didn’t seem to notice its distressed cries. Eventually, the baby fell out of the tree. Luckily, there was a rescue center across the road.
Image: Adam C. Smith Photography
All the sloths on this list are lucky to have found places to take care of them during the most vulnerable stage of their lives. But some are not so fortunate. In Brazil, deforestation and hunting has meant that the maned three-toed sloth is endangered, while on the Panama island of Isla Escudo de Veraguas, the pygmy three-toed sloth is critically endangered due to poaching. However, without the interference of mankind, sloths thrive in their own environment, and we certainly hope things stay this way.