Bradypus pygmaeus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Bradypus pygmaeus
Species Authority: Anderson & Handley, 2001
Common Name/s:
English Pygmy Three-toed Sloth
Spanish Perezoso Pigmeo
Taxonomic Notes: Bradypus pygmaeus has only recently been described by Anderson and Handley (2001) as a separate species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(ii,iii)+2ab(ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-06-27
Assessor/s: Anderson, R. & Moraes-Barros, N. and Voirin, B.
Reviewer/s: Superina, M. & Abba, A.M.
Bradypus pygmaeus is listed as Critically Endangered as this species has a very restricted range, being found only on one very small island less than 5 km² in size, and there is likely a continuing decline in the quality of habitat and area of occupancy due to habitat degradation.
2006 Critically Endangered (IUCN 2006)
2006 Critically Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Bradypus pygmaeus is known only from Isla Escudo de Veraguas, in the islands of Bocas del Toro, Panama. Sloths on the younger islands of the Bocas del Toro archipelago are conspecific with Bradypus variegatus. Isla Escudo de Veraguas has an area of approximately 4.3 km² and is about 17.6 km from the mainland of Panama.
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There is no information available on the population status of B. pygmaeus. The population is likely to be relatively small and presumably consists of less than 500 individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This smallest of all sloths, this species has only been recorded in the red mangrove forests surrounding the island, currently estimated at just 1.3–1.5 km² in area. It has not been recorded from forest patches within the island. As far as is known, it primarily, if not exclusively, feeds on mangrove leaves.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Although the island is uninhabited, there are seasonal visitors (fishermen, campesinos, lobster divers and local people) who are known to hunt the sloths opportunistically (B. Voirin pers. comm. 2010). Preliminary studies suggest a low level of genetic diversity among pygmy sloths (Silva et al. 2010, N. Moraes-Barros pers. comm. 2010), which could lead to endogamic depression if the (already low) population size decreases any further.

Previously, it was thought that there were potential threats from the development of the island for tourism; it has now been confirmed that this is not likely as the whole island is now a marine reserve and very few tourists visit the island (B. Voirin pers. comm., 18 July 2010). However, cutting of the mangroves by indigenous people continues to reduce the area of available habitat for this species. Over the past five years mangrove coverage has been greatly reduced.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: B. pygmaeus is endemic to a single island of Panama, which is protected as a wildlife refuge and is contained within the Comarca Indigenous Reserve. There is a need to improve the enforcement of this protected area, which currently receives little attention from wildlife protection authorities. Conservation of the species could be improved through local awareness programmes, specifically those promoting sloths as conservation flagship species.
Citation: Anderson, R. & Moraes-Barros, N. and Voirin, B. 2011. Bradypus pygmaeus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 21 April 2014.
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