Three-toed sloths are about the size of a small dog or a large cat, with the head and body having a combined length of around 45 centimetres (18 in), and the animal having a weight of 3.5–4.5 kilograms (8–10 lb). Unlike the two-toed sloths, they also have a short tail of 6–7 centimetres (2–3 in), and they have three clawed toes on each limb. They are frequently referred to as three-toed sloths, however all sloths have 3 toes, the difference is found in the number of fingers; meaning they are now more appropriately referred to as three-fingered sloths. This idea was first implemented by Judy Avey-Arroyo, co-founder of the world's only sloth sanctuary, but is now recognized in numerous publications as the correct terminology for these animals. They move between different trees up to four times a day, although they prefer to keep to a particular type of tree, which varies between individuals, perhaps as a means of allowing multiple sloths to occupy overlapping home ranges without competing with each other. Three-toed sloths have no incisor or canine teeth, just a set of peg-shaped cheek teeth that are not clearly divided into premolars and molars, and lack homology with those teeth in other mammals and are thus referred to as molariforms. The molariform dentition in three-toed sloths is simple and can be characterized as dental formula of:
The three-toed sloth, unlike most other mammals, does not fully maintain a constant body temperature, and this limits it to warm environments.
Members of this species tend to live around 25 to 30 years, reaching sexual maturation at 2 years of age.
Females give birth to a single young after a gestation period of around six months. They are weaned at about 9 months of age, at which point, the mother leaves her home territory to her offspring and moves elsewhere. Adults are solitary, and mark their territories using anal scent glands and dung middens.
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