Sloths are a popular animal known for their adorable faces and lethargic behavior. They are the slowest-moving mammals on our planet and their top speed is only 1.2 miles per hour (mph).
Sloths spend around 15 to 18 hours a day sleeping. They are mostly solitary creatures but will venture down from the trees to find a mate.
These beautiful animals are found in the canopies of Central and South American tropical forests. Sloths are arboreal animals and spend most of their lives on trees, moving around using canopy vines.
Because of their slow movements, sloths only defecate once a week. This is one of the rare occasions when they come to the ground. Some meals can take up to a month for a sloth to digest. Sloths are folivores, which means their diet is nearly all leaves.
Sloths have been on Earth for more than 65 million years. There are two different types of sloths, three-fingered and two-fingered.
Sloths belong to the superorder Xenarthra which also contains armadillos and anteaters. This is one of the oldest groups of mammals around on our planet today. All members of Xenarthra have the same unique articulations in their lower spines.
Here are animals that share similarities with sloths.
Scientific name: Vermilingua
Quick summary: The closest relative of sloths.
Anteaters are unusual-looking animals with distinctive, long snouts, no teeth, and very long tongues. There are six species of anteaters found in most countries across Central and South America.
The largest species is the giant anteater which can reach 6-8 feet. The smallest is a silky anteater which weighs less than a pound and is around a foot long.
Anteaters are the closest living relatives of sloths and both animals belong to the superorder Xenarthra.
Both anteaters and sloths have long, sticky tongues to help them eat, but they have very different diets. Sloths eat mainly leaves, but anteaters feed on termites and ants as their name suggests.
Like sloths, anteaters have a very low body temperature. They are also both solitary animals.
2. Slow Loris
Scientific name: Nycticebus
Quick summary: A tree-hugging primate that looks and behaves like a sloth.
A slow loris is a small tree-hugging primate with big eyes that looks similar to a sloth.
Slow lorises are very slow animals, just like sloths. They move at around 1.18 miles per hour which is slightly faster than a sloth.
Like sloths, these cute creatures are arboreal mammals and spend most of their lives in the trees of the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia.
Slow lorises are omnivores who eat small animals as well as leaves, fruit, and tree gum, unlike sloths who only eat leaves and twigs.
Scientific name: Dasypodidae
Quick summary: A mammal with a shell that is closely related to sloths.
An armadillo is an unusual armor-plated mammal that is part of the superorder Xenarhtra along with sloths and anteaters. Just like sloths, they have sharp, long claws that they use for digging.
Although armadillos can move much faster than a sloth, both animals enjoy sleeping. Armadillos can sleep up to 16 hours a day, similar to a sloth.
Like sloths and anteaters, armadillos have a low body temperature.
If threatened, some species of armadillos will roll into a ball.
Scientific name: Tarsiidae
Quick summary: A tiny tree-hugging primate with similarities to sloths.
A tarsier is a very small, tree-hugging primate found in the Southeast Asian islands of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines.
Like sloths, tarsiers spend all their time living in trees and are found in forested areas.
Tarsiers are usually found between 3 and 6.5 feet from the ground.
Unlike sloths who only eat leaves and twigs, tarsiers enjoy a diet of reptiles, birds, frogs, and insects and are the only entirely carnivorous primate.
Scientific name: Lemuroidea
Quick summary: A primate with similar sleeping habits to sloths.
Lemurs are adorable-looking primates only found in Madagascar. There are more than 100 species of lemur.
Just like sloths, lemurs live in trees. They cannot grip with their tails like many other primates. Instead, they use their hands and feet to move through trees like sloths, but are much quicker at moving around.
Lemurs love sleeping as much as sloths do, and spend around 16 hours a day snoozing.
Scientific name: Phascolarctos cinereus
Quick summary: A tree-dwelling Australian marsupial with several similarities to sloths.
A koala is a tree-dwelling marsupial only found in Australia. Like sloths, koalas have very long, sharp claws and spend nearly all their lives in trees.
Koalas and sloths are both herbivores that primarily feed on leaves, and a koala’s favorite food is eucalyptus leaves.
Eucalyptus leaves contain toxins and take koalas a long time to digest, making them sleepy. Koalas can sleep even longer than sloths, up to 20 hours per day.
Unlike sloths, koalas are marsupials and carry their young in pouches after birth.
7. Tree Pangolin
Scientific name: Phataginus tricuspis
Quick summary: A scaly animal that spends most of its time in trees.
Tree pangolins are scaly animals that live in the rainforests of Central Africa. They are sometimes called scaly anteaters, but are mammals in a family of their own and are not related to anteaters.
Like sloths, tree pangolins have long, sticky tongues. Sloths use their tongue to eat leaves, but tree pangolins lick up ants or termites for food.
Tree pangolins are semi-arboreal animals, and have sharp claws that help them move around in trees like sloths. Unlike sloths, tree pangolins also use their tails to climb and hold onto branches.
Sloths and tree pangolins are both solitary animals, and only look for partners during the breeding season.
8. Tree Kangaroo
Scientific name: Dendrolagus
Quick summary: An Australian animal that lives in trees.
Tree kangaroos are found in the lowlands and rainforests of Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.
They have more similarities with sloths than with other members of the kangaroo family and are the only true arboreal marsupials.
Just like sloths, tree kangaroos have adapted to living in trees and have long claws to help them climb in the forest canopy.
Tree kangaroos and sloths are both endangered due to the destruction of their forest habitat by humans.
9. Howler Monkey
Scientific name: Alouatta
Quick summary: A tree-dwelling monkey that lives with sloths.
Howler monkeys live in Central and South America and share the same territories as sloths. Sometimes, sloths and howler monkeys will even share the same tree.
Like sloths, howler monkeys rarely leave the treetops and spend most of their time relaxing at the very top of the forest canopy.
Howlers share a similar diet to sloths, eating mainly leaves but also nuts, flowers, and fruits.
Both sloths and howler monkeys hang upside down from trees. Howler monkeys are strong animals that can hang from a branch using just their tail.
10. Giant Panda
Scientific name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca
Quick summary: A distinctive large bear with similarities to sloths.
The giant panda is a large black-and-white bear found only in China. Like sloths, these lovable animals have a reputation for being lethargic and slow.
Pandas use only 38 percent of the daily energy of other bears. Their daily energy expenditure values are similar to that of a three-fingered sloth.
Even though pandas are officially classed as carnivores, they usually only eat bamboo.
Pandas do not live in trees like sloths, and they are much larger animals. A panda can weigh up to 350 lbs, but sloths only weigh 9 and 17 pounds.
11. Sloth Bear
Scientific name: Melursus ursinus
Quick summary: A bear that looks like a sloth.
Sloth bears are forest-dwelling bears found in the tropical or subtropical regions of Sri Lanka and India.
Despite their name, they are not related to sloths, but do share some characteristics.
Sloth bears have shaggy fur and long claws similar to sloths. They sometimes hang upside down from the branches of a tree as sloths do.
Like sloths, sloth bears live solitary lives. The only exception is during the breeding season which takes place from May through July.
Sloth bears may be named after sloths, but they are surprisingly agile and quick. They can run as fast as a human and will attack if threatened or surprised.
Scientific name: Didelphidae
Quick summary: A tree-dwelling animal that loves to sleep.
Opossums are medium-sized pouched mammals with pointed snouts. They are found in Central, South, and North America.
Like sloths, opossums are mostly arboreal which means they spend most of their time in trees. They are excellent tree climbers and have long, sharp claws like a sloth.
Opossums are slow-moving animals just like sloths and spend a lot of time sleeping. Sloths will snooze for around 15-18 hours a day, but opossums can sleep for up to 20 hours a day.
Scientific name: Hylobatidae
Quick summary: A primate with very long arms similar to a sloth.
Gibbons are small apes and are part of the family Hylobatidae. They are found in the tropical and subtropical rainforests of Southern Asia.
Just like sloths, these fascinating animals spend most of their time in trees.
Sloths and gibbons are two mammals with the longest arms.
The arm span of siamang gibbons is around 5 feet wide and their arms are 1.5 times longer than their legs. Sloths have even longer arms that are 1.7 times longer than their legs.
14. Owl Monkey
Scientific name: Aotus lemurinus
Quick summary: A nocturnal monkey that spends a lot of time sleeping.
Owl monkeys are the only truly nocturnal monkeys in the world and are also known as night monkeys. They are found in the subtropical and tropical forests of South America.
Just like sloths, these beautiful animals rarely venture down from the canopy of the trees. They also love to sleep, and rest for around 17 hours a day as sloths do.
Owl monkeys are easily recognizable by their very large eyes which have evolved as a result of their nocturnal lifestyle.
15. Spider Monkey
Scientific name: Ateles
Quick summary: A tree-dwelling monkey with long arms like a sloth.
Spider monkeys are agile monkeys that live in the tropical lowland rainforests of South America.
Like sloths, they have long arms that allow them to move through the trees. They are arboreal animals like a sloth and spend most of their time on the top of the tree canopy.
These incredible creatures got their name because they often hang upside down with their tails and their limbs dangling, and look like large spiders.
Spider monkeys are very intelligent, and unlike sloths, they are sociable and live in a large community of about 20 to 100 monkeys.
Sloths have some very unusual characteristics, but there are a number of animals that share several similarities with sloths.
Anteaters and armadillos are the closest living relatives of sloths. Although they don’t look very similar, all of these animals belong to the superorder Xenarthra and share a number of characteristics.
Many tree-dwelling animals such as owl monkeys, koalas, and opossums also have physical similarities to sloths.
Sloths are the slowest animal on our planet and spend a lot of their time sleeping. There are several other animals that also sleep for long periods each day like sloths, including giant pandas and lemurs.