Even though many of the sloth’s relatives have gone extinct, but there are still some animals that have a lot in common with the sluggish sloth. The 14 animals like sloths on this list, each have something in common with these unique creatures. But before we dive into this list, let’s a bit more about the sloth.
What is a sloth?
There are two main species of sloth: two and three toed sloths. Two-toed sloths are larger and slightly slower than three-toed sloths, but these long-armed creatures are still much slower than your average mammal!
In fact, the sloth is one of the world’s slowest animals, moving at a pace of around 1 foot per minute. They move so slowly that algae grows on their fur, giving them natural camouflage.
Sloths make their home in Central and South America, where they live in tropical forests. The sloth is arboreal, which means it spends most of its time in the trees! It has long, claw-like nails that help it cling to branches, but these nails make it difficult for sloths to walk on ground.
14 Animals Like Sloths
Here’s a list of 14 animal species that have something in common with the modern sloth, whether it be their appearance or behavior.
Why anteaters are like sloths: The anteater is the sloth’s closest relative and has a very low body temperature
Anteaters and sloths are closely related and share many traits, like long claws and a sticky tongue. An anteater’s tongue can be up to two feet long and is covered in spikes, which helps in to grab onto food.
True to its name, anteaters do eat ants, but they also like to munch on worms, fruit, and bird eggs. Unlike sloths, anteaters have no teeth, which means this animal swallows its food whole!
Why opossum are like sloths: Like sloths, the opossum is an extremely slow animal that can sleep 20 hours a day!
The typical sloth sleeps for 15 to 18 hours a day, but opossums snooze for even longer, napping for 18 to 20 hours a day on average. Opossums love trees and will use their tail to hang from branches, but they sleep in dens on the ground.
Similar to housecats, opossums use their tongues to groom and keep their bodies cool. The opossum is mainly a scavenger and will feed on both dead animals and plants.
Why koalas are like sloths: Both animals are arboreal and spend most of their time sleeping
While people often refer to koalas as bears, they’re actually marsupials. Like sloths, koalas primarily feed on leaves and are especially fond of eucalyptus leaves.
These leaves contain toxins and take a long time to digest, causing koalas to sleep up to 20 hours per day. The koala may look sweet and cuddly, but it has sharp claws and teeth and can be vicious when it’s under threat!
Why pangolin are like sloths: Pangolin and sloths both have long, sticky tongues!
Pangolins have a lot in common with sloths and anteaters, but these animals aren’t actually related. A pangolin’s tongue can be more than two feet long, which helps them reach insect nests.
Some pangolin species are arboreal, but other species spend most of their time on the ground. The pangolin is hunted for its meat and scales and is the most trafficked animal in the entire world.
5. Owl Monkeys
Why owl monkeys are like sloths: Like sloths, owl monkeys are mostly nocturnal and spend most of their time sleeping
The owl monkey is the only true monkey that’s nocturnal. It’s also referred to as a night monkey. While owl monkeys are active at night, they spend most of their time sleeping in trees like sloths do, resting for around 17 hours per day.
They make their home in tropical rainforests and can be found in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and many other parts of South America.
6. Red Pandas
Why red pandas are like sloths: Both of these clawed herbivores have hard, razor-sharp teeth
Sloths only have 18 teeth, but these teeth are extremely hard and sharp. The arboreal red panda also has very sharp claws and teeth, but it has 36 to 38 teeth in total. Red pandas live in China and the Eastern Himalayas.
Although red pandas are classified as carnivores, they eat a vegetarian diet that mostly consists of leaves and bamboo.
7. Tree Kangaroos
Why tree kangaroos are like sloths: Unlike most types of kangaroos, tree kangaroos feed and sleep in trees
Even though tree kangaroos are kangaroos, they have more in common with sloths than many of the kangaroo species you’ll find on the ground. Tree kangaroos have strong forearms and long claws that help them to climb to the top of trees.
They mostly eat leaves, but will also feed on tree bark and some types of flowers, including orchids. While tree kangaroos haven’t been studied much in the wild, they can live more than 25 years in captivity.
8. Slow Lorises
Why slow lorises are like sloths: Sloths and slow lorises are two of the slowest mammals in the world!
True to its name, the slow loris moves at a speed of just 1.8 miles per hour, making it slightly faster than a sloth. It has not one, but two tongues, a shorter tongue and a long tongue that it can use to reach nectar in plants.
The slow loris can also use its long tongue to collect toxins from a gland on its elbow, giving it a venomous bite. It’s one of the rarest primates and has shaggy brown or gray fur.
Why armadillos are like sloths: Armadillos have a low body temperature and are one of the sloth’s closest relatives
Armadillos and sloths are both xenarthrans, a type of placental mammal with traits that aren’t found in other mammals. The armadillo has natural plate armor that helps to protect it against potential threats.
Some species, like the three-banded armadillo, can even roll into a ball to stay safe from predators. The armadillo is nocturnal and can sleep up to 16 hours a day.
10. Siamang Gibbons
Why Siamang gibbons are like sloths: Both animals are arboreal and have very long arms
One of the most distinctive traits of the sloth is its long arm, a feature that it shares with Siamang gibbons. The gibbon’s body is covered in shaggy black fur, with gray markings around its face.
Siamangs are the largest gibbon species and are one of only a few primate species that forms permanent pairs. It mostly eats leaves, but it also likes to munch on fruit!
11. Giant Pandas
Why giant pandas are like sloths: Pandas have a slow metabolism that makes them as sluggish as sloths!
Weighing up to 250 pounds, the giant panda is much heavier than sloths, which weigh between 9 and 17 pounds on average. However, both animals have very slow metabolisms, which means they don’t have much energy to move around.
Just like sloths, a giant panda’s fur provides natural camouflage and allows it to blend in with its surroundings. Although they may be sluggish, sloths and giant pandas are both excellent swimmers.
Why lemurs are like sloths: Like sloths, lemurs are sleepy mammals that rarely leave the trees they call home
Lemurs live in trees and spend around 16 hours a day sleeping, similar to sloths. Even though there are more than 100 species of lemur, this animal can only be found in Madagascar.
Lemurs primarily eat fruit and sometimes get seeds or pollen stuck to their fur while they hunt for food. As the lemur moves, these seeds fall to the ground below, which helps to spread plants across the ecosystem.
Why treeshrews are like sloths: Treeshrews are sometimes arboreal and can sleep up to 15 hours a day
Like sloths, treeshrews have sharp nails that make them naturally adept at climbing trees. Treeshrews are also one of the sleepiest animals in nature, dozing for an average of 15 hours per day.
Although treeshrews are small, they’re very territorial and use scent glands to mark their favorite trees. A treeshrew’s diet mostly consists of insects and fruit.
Why orangutans are like sloths: Orangutans and sloths have very long arms they use to hang from trees
Orangutans are much more active than sloths, but both animals have extremely long limbs. In fact, an orangutan’s arm span can be longer than 7 feet! The orangutan is one of the heaviest arboreal animals and can weigh as much as 220 pounds.
They’re very intelligent animals, and the name orangutan even means “person of the forest.”