Bradypus variegatus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Bradypus variegatus
Species Authority: Schinz, 1825
Common Name/s:
English Brown-throated Sloth, Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth, Bolivian Three-toed Sloth
French Paresseux Tridactyle De Bolivie, Aï De Bolivie, Bradype, Paresseux Tridactyle
Spanish Guasa, Perezoso Bayo, Perezoso Grisaceo, Perezoso Tridáctilo, Perico Ligero
Taxonomic Notes:

According to Gardner (2007) seven subspecies are recognized: B. v. boliviensis (Gray, 1871); B.v. brasiliensis Blainville, 1840; B.v. ephippiger R.A. Philippi, 1870; B.v. gorgon O. Thomas, 1926; B.v. infuscatus Wagler, 1831; B.v. trivittatus Cornalia, 1849; and B.v. variegates Schinz, 1825.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-05-27
Assessor/s: Chiarello, A., Moraes-Barros, N. & Plese, T.
Reviewer/s: Abba, A.M. & Superina, M.
B. variegatus is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution including a large part of the Amazon forest, presumed large population, its occurrence in a number of protected areas, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. Recent phylogeographic studies reveal that B. variegatus from the Central American, Western Amazon and Atlantic forests constitute distinct and unique evolutionary units that are distinguishable by molecular and morphological traits.
2006 Least Concern (IUCN 2006)
2006 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: B. variegatus ranges from Honduras in the north, through southern Central America. In South America, it ranges from Colombia into western and southern Venezuela, and south into Ecuador, eastern Peru and Bolivia, into Brazil and northern Argentina (where it is now considered to be extirpated). Its distribution overlaps with B. torquatus in the central part of the Atlantic forest (Hirsch and Chiarello unpublished data). In Brazil, the species currently occurs in forested areas of the Amazon, Atlantic forest, and Cerrado biomes. There are historical records of B. variegatus in the Caatinga biome (Moraes-Barros unpublished data 2010).
There are no confirmed records for B. variegatus in the Pantanal biome of Brazil, but the species might occur in the contact zones between this biome and the Amazon forest to the north. Additional field studies are necessary in order to properly define the current species distribution in the Cerrado, Caatinga and Pantanal.
The southernmost distribution of this sloth in Brazil was reported by Cabrera (1957) as the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which could, however, not be confirmed (Gardner 2007). It is historically absent from the state of Santa Catarina (Brazil) and northeastern Argentina; the southernmost confirmed record of the species is near Londrina, in the state of Paraná, Brazil, but today it is considered extinct in this state (Mikich and Bernils 2004). The last record from Argentina, was collected in Jujuy province and dates back to 1916 (Vizcaíno et al. 2006), but field studies specifically aiming at this species are lacking from this country. B. variegatus is found from sea level to at least 2,400 m asl (Ureña et al. 1986).
Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; Honduras; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Possibly extinct:
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Population densities of B. variegatus have been estimated at 2.2 to 6.7 animals per hectare in the Brazilian Amazon (Queiroz 1995), 8.5 animals per hectare in Panama (Montgomery and Sunquist 1975), and 0.6 to 4.5 animals per hectare in the tropical dry forest of Colombia (Acevedo and Sanchez 2007). No demographic information is available from the remaining area of distribution. B. variegatus is commonly found in public squares, where densities can reach 12.5 animals per hectare (Manchester and Jorge 2009).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: B. variegatus has been recorded from a number of forest types including seasonal mesic tropical forest, semi-deciduous forest (inland Atlantic Forest), cloud forest, and lowland tropical forest. It inhabits cacao (Theobroma cacao) plantations in Costa Rica (Vaughan et al. 2007). This sloth species produces one litter of one infant at intervals of at least 19 months (T. Plese pers. comm. 2010). Mating period varies depending on the year and geographical region, but occurs mainly in spring (i.e., from July to November in South America and from February to May in Central America).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It appears that there are no major threats to B. variegatus at the global level. Nevertheless, some populations, especially in Colombia and Brazil, are declining due to deforestation leading to severe habitat degradation and fragmentation. Furthermore, they are hunted by local indigenous communities. Wild-caught individuals, especially offspring, are sold as pets to tourists in Colombia (Moreno and Plese 2006). This illegal trade is increasing and represents a cause of concern due to its impact on the wild populations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: B. variegatus is present in many protected areas. It is included in CITES Appendix II.

Bibliography [top]

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Moreno, S. and Plese, T. 2005. Distribución actual e histórica, uso de hábitat y estimación del estado de conservación del perezoso de tres uñas (Bradypus variegatus) en el área de jurisdicción de Corantioquia. Fundación UNAU, Corantioquia, Medellín.

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Citation: Chiarello, A., Moraes-Barros, N. & Plese, T. 2011. Bradypus variegatus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 16 April 2014.
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