The Maned sloth is a species of three-toed sloth that lives only in Brazil. It has a pale brown to gray pelage. Long outer hair covers a short, dense, black and white underfur. The coarse outer coat is usually inhabited by algae, mites, ticks, beetles, and moths. The Maned sloth's small head features fur-covered pinnae and anterior-oriented eyes that are usually covered by a mask of black hair. The Maned sloth earns its name from a mane of black hair running down its neck and over its shoulders. The mane is usually larger and darker in males than in females, and in the latter, may be reduced to a pair of long tufts. Other than the mane, the fur is relatively uniform in color, and, in particular, the males lack the patch of bright fur found on the back of other, closely related, sloths.
Maned sloths are now found only in the Atlantic coastal rainforest of southeastern Brazil. They prefer to live in evergreen forests, although, being able to eat a wide range of leaves, these animals can also inhabit the semi-deciduous and secondary forest. They are typically found in hot, humid climates without any dry season.
Maned sloths are solitary diurnal animals that spend most of their day asleep; the rest time is more or less equally divided between feeding and traveling. Sloths sleep in crotches of trees or by dangling from branches by their legs and tucking their head in between their forelegs. Like all other sloths, Maned sloths have very little muscle mass in comparison to other mammals their size. This reduced muscle mass allows them to hang from thin branches. They rarely descend from the trees because, when on a level surface, they are unable to stand and walk, only being able to drag themselves along with their front legs and claws. They travel to the ground only to defecate or to move between trees when they cannot do so through the branches. The main defenses of these animals are to stay still and to lash out with their formidable claws. Sloths can swim well but do not move well on the ground.
Although some reports indicate that Maned sloths are able to breed year-round, others have observed that the majority of births occur between February and April. The mother gives birth to a single baby, which initially weighs around 300 grams (11 oz) and lacks the distinctive mane found on adults. The young begins to take solid food at 2 weeks and is fully weaned by 2 to 4 months of age. It leaves the mother at between 9 and 11 months of age.
The major threat to these slow-moving animals is the loss of their forest habitat as a result of lumber (timber) extraction, charcoal production, and clearance for plantations and cattle pastures. Excessive hunting is also a threat to this species.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Maned sloth total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.