The sloths can be found in almost all of Costa Rica, no one wants to leave Costa Rica without seeing a sloth. You will see them in the trees, crossing the road or sleeping in a almond tree by the beach.
Because in Costa Rica there is an abundance of wildlife, incredible waterfalls, active volcanoes, stunning beaches, lush tropical forests. It is recommended that you choose a guided tour with an expert and certified naturalist. As you make your way through the lush trees and vegetation in the area, an experienced local guide will be able to find you and point out the sloths that are normally hiding in the vegetation. Spotting them can be challenging. Sloths specialize in the art of camouflage. With their tree colored fur and slow movements, they can be extremely difficult to locate from the ground. You could walk from one part of the jungle to another and not see one of the dozen sloths living in the rainforest canopies. That is why it’s highly recommended to enlist the help of a guide and obtain a good pair of binoculars to easily see these magnificent creatures.
The following are some of the best places to see sloths in Costa Rica:
La Fortuna area – Arenal
The Arenal Volcano is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country that places visitors in the midst of abundant life, an imminent volcano, lush tropical forests and, of course, sloths. If you are looking for sloths, you should take a tour of the Arenal hanging bridges or at the private property call Sloth Trail.
Manuel Antonio National Park-Quepos
Manuel Antonio National Park is another frequently visited place in the country to see sloths and other tropical animals. It is considered to be one of the most impressive national parks in the world and is home to a wide variety of unusual wildlife, including sloths. If you’re lucky, you’ll see two- and three-finger sloths here.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is another great place to see sloths in Costa Rica, as well as many other tropical wildlife. Both species of sloths are found here. This great national park of Costa Rica is famous for its exuberant flora and fauna. According to National Geographic, this park is the most biologically intense place on the eartht in terms of biodiversity. It is recommended to stay at Estación Sirena if you plan to explore Corcovado National Park for several days. It is located in the middle of the park and offers tours to spot the sloths in the early morning.
Another wonderful corner or this impressive national park is Los Patos but only suggested to those with an extreme desire for hiking and trekking the depths of the forest.
The sloths in Costa Rica are like the beauty that everyone wants to dance with. We never see enough of them and visitors from all over the world come to see them and stand up to admire this fantastic, rather slow and dirty looking creature.
What is the reason why tourists look for a sloth?
It’s probably the smile, with a softness that is hard to ignore. There is a wise aura around sloths and it somehow attracts all of us. Sloths in Costa Rica are the most popular and supported animal of all.
Some data about sloths
They are Neotropical mammals, which live above the treetops, since their diet is based on leaves.
There are two families of sloths in the world: two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths BUT THE CORRECT NAME SHALL BE: Two-Three FINGER sloths. And these have six species, among which are two in Costa Rica. (Despite this universal classification, all sloths have three toes on their hind legs.)
In Costa Rica, we have the brown-throated three-toed sloth and the Hoffman’s two-toed sloth.
Hoffman’s two-toed sloth (Choloepus Hoffmanni)
The Hoffman two-toed sloth is harder to find, as it is usually active at night. Throughout the day, you will see him in a ball of hair usually covered in leaves. These can be found much higher in elevation up to over 2200 meters from sea level. Many times as we drive to Poas Volcano, they can be spotted taking the sun on bare branches of electrical wires.
Brown-throated sloth (Bradypus abigarraus)
The best-known sloth in the world is the Brown-throated Day Sloth. They are smaller in size than the Hoffman sloth, as they are slightly more active.
Why are sloths so slow?
The slowness is key to their survival. Far from being lazy and regardless of their name, sloths are very efficient in maintaining energy, and it has to do with their diet.
These beautifull animals are slow about what they eat: twigs, leaves and flowers and are low in energy and lack much of the nutrients required – such as fat and protein – for a well-balanced meal.
However, this feature also helps them survive in the forest, especially in nature situations.
In general, herbivores that eat leaves, twigs and flowers of trees have very complex digestive systems that allow them to digest cellulose among other substances. In the case of the sloth, although it has a complex digestive system, it compensates for its small size with a great energy saving system and a regulation of its temperature (Yes, like reptiles).
Important facts about sloth bears.
They are everywhere! Sloths are one of the most adaptive creatures in the jungle. Biologists consider that sloths make up more than half of the total biomass of rainforests in South and Central America.
The sloths are dirty
Lazy hair is long and coarse and depending on the species it can include either some channels or irregular transverse fissures that grow in number and size with the age of the animal. These quirks are ideal for the habitability of a wide diversity of organisms, ranging from cockroaches, moths, and beetles, to ciliates, fungi, and algae.
Sloth hair really works as an ecological association that has swarms of moths and algae. By helping sloths to hide in green forests the algae serve as well as a food source even for the sloth itself, and it appears that they are fertilized by the mammal’s own feces.
Sloths risk their lives to defecate
Sloths have little reason to get out of the safety of the rainforest canopy, but once a week they go to the bottom of their favorite tree to defecate. The exact cause of this dangerous journey remains a mystery, but researchers speculate that it may help keep algae fields in their fur.
Sloths can turn their heads almost completely
Sloths turn their heads up to 270 °. This is very useful since its main predator is the harpy eagles.
90% of their lives are spent upside down
Monitoring sloths in the forest it was discovered that sloths consume almost all of their time in reverse. To handle the influence of gravity, sloths have developed unique fibrous adhesions that hold their organs in place.
It is very interesting to think about what makes them successful as a population, since they are so slow and defenseless. Despite their lethargy, sloths can be remarkably resistant to predators.
Their claws are like fast knives when the sloth is attacked, but they have developed the most powerful of all superpowers: invisibility: Their algae, and everything that lives on their fur, along with their own slow movements make them truly invisible.
Sloths are very good swimmers
They can be slow and appear clumsy in trees, but sloths can go up to three times faster in water.
Your slowness is a reflection of your metabolism
Without any exaggeration, it can take up to 30 days for a sloth to digest a single leaf. Although its average is 16 days. They don’t sleep all day
Although sloths in captivity are known to sleep 15 to 20 hours a day, free-roaming sloths typically have an average of 10 hours of sleep per day.
Can I hurt them?
Be careful where you can pick up a sloth or feed it. And unless you are part of the specialized staff of a rescue center (cases of volunteers who are trained by veterinarians, for example) there is no excuse or justification for a sloth to be in the hands of tourists.
We use creams, repellent, perfumes and other substances (including our sweat) that can harm them.
It is virtually impossible not to see an sloth in Costa Rica if you come to see the rainforest and they are not that far from the cities either, but please, as in everything that has to do with nature, let’s observe them and be amazed, responsibly and without any damage.
Sloth Bear Rescue (Protection Sanctuaries).
Located in different parts of the country, these sites carry out rescue work for injured animals, veterinary medicine and rehabilitation, which allows the animals to rejoin the forest; or care, in case they do not have the conditions to survive on their own.
The organizations also carry out initiatives to ensure the environment of animals in the areas where they are installed. Being non-profit organizations, they keep the door open to those who wish to donate, both money and knowledge and time.
Berke, J. (2018). Sloths are some of the slowest animals in the world — here’s why.
Business Insider. Retrieved 21 October 2018,
from https://www.businessinsider.com/why-are-sloths-slow-2018-3#sloths-are-extremely-sleepy-snoozing-for-over-15-hours-a-day-5 Science, L. (2014). Sloth Facts: Habits, Habitat & Diet. Live Science. Retrieved 23
October 2018, from https://www.livescience.com/27612-sloths.html