Hoffman two-toed Sloth looking up in the tree
Hoffman two-toed Sloth looking up in the tree at Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica

One of my favorite things to do is to meet travelers that are visiting my homeland of Costa Rica. I see them on their laptops, taking a break from their breathtaking surroundings to catch up on email or laugh at the latest Internet meme.

Imagine my surprise when I started seeing more and more tourists looking up adorable and funny pictures and videos of sloths! I have always been fond of my slow-moving friends, who call the trees of Costa Rica home, but I didn’t know that they were becoming royalty on the Internet!

Luckily for the Costa Rica visitors that want to catch a glimpse of my cute friends, about five species of sloths live among the canopies of Costa Rica’s rainforests!

Seeing sloths can easily become one of the highlights of your trip to Costa Rica, and since they dwell in the rainforests, you’ll also be able to see other wildlife and natural beauty.

Three Toed Sloth in Tree
Three Toed Sloth in Tree in Matapalo

All About Sloths

The main characteristic of a sloth is that it is a very slow-moving animal; they would not be able to keep up with me as I hop around all Costa Rica provinces! These mammals are medium-sized and have special hooked claws which allow them to be tree-dwelling.

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Their claws are similar to those that ant-eaters have, and these two mammals are even related. Their main diet consists of leaves, which are easy to access from up in the trees, and they even have extra-long tongues to help them snag leaves that are out of reach. They also eat fruits, buds and twigs.

They live in the trees all over Costa Rica, rarely coming down to the ground level. They are nocturnal creatures, meaning that they are active at night and sleep during the day.

Sloths use their huge claws to grip tree branches, and they sleep upside down. The most common species in Costa Rica are the two-toed and three-toed sloths, and in the wild they have been known to live up to 30 years!

The Best Time to See Sloths in Costa Rica

Sloths are living in the rainforests in Costa Rica all year long! They do not migrate or hibernate so no matter when you plan to visit Costa Rica, you can include “sloth spotting” on your to-do list!

During the rainy season, there is a flourish of flora and fauna so you may have a better chance of seeing these elusive tree-dwellers, but you can also find them hanging around in the trees during in the dry season.

Baby three-toed sloth eating mangrove leaf
Baby three-toed sloth eating mangrove leaf at Damas Island, Costa Rica

Where You Can Find Sloths in Costa Rica

Outside of the South and Central American rainforests, these popular mammals are not able to survive.

Sloths can be found along both coasts in Costa Rica, in the cloud forests and in the lowland jungles, where the environments help these animals stay healthy and prosperous.

Costa Rica is also home to the Sloth Sanctuary, one of the world’s foremost facilities that specialize in rescuing sloths and researching the species. You might have seen this facility featured on the Animal Planet channel!

If you plan on being near Limon during your visit to Costa Rica, you should consider adding the Sloth Sanctuary to your itinerary.

You can also find sloths in the many National Parks and forest reserves located throughout Costa Rica. There are many places located in Puntarenas that are home to sloths, including the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve in Monteverde, Manuel Antonio National Park and Corcovado National Park.

Check up on the area that you are going to prior to your visit to find out where you can see sloths locally.

How You Can See Sloths in Costa Rica

The basic rule for getting the most out of your trip to Costa Rica is to hire a naturalist guide – and this rule holds true for seeing sloths.

Part of a sloth’s survival depends on its ability to blend with its environment and its coloring adds to its camouflage. If you’re looking to brag about how you saw this online-famous animal in person, hire a guide that knows how to spot them in their natural environment.

Book a wildlife tour or plan a boat trip through the canals and keep your eyes trained toward the trees!

Good luck with your sloth-spotting adventure! Stick around and browse my Travel Blog to learn more about activities and wildlife in Costa Rica!

Baby three-toed Sloth sitting in a tree
Baby three-toed Sloth sitting in a tree at Barbilla National Park, Costa Rica