Are Sloths Dangerous to Humans & Pets?

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

Sloths are famous for their laziness, but have you imagined what they look like when they get angry? Are sloths dangerous in that case?

These animals are not aggressive and dangerous by nature. However, they use their sharp claws and teeth to defend themselves when threatened.

We will bring you closer to the sloths by discussing some of their notable features. Let’s join us to learn everything about this furry tree-climbing animal!

Are Sloths Dangerous?

If these creatures live in their natural habitat, they pose no threat to people. If they feel unsafe, they can use their claws to hurt their enemies.

These animals also bite and spread illnesses that are dangerous to humans. They carry bugs in their fur that can pass diseases.

To dig deeper into this topic, we will split it into different questions: Do they attack us? Do they often bite? Please scroll down to discover.

Do sloths attack us?

are sloths dangerous

Yes, they may, but they don’t do it suddenly. These lazy enemies won’t chase after you unless you annoy them.

A sloth is unlikely to run after you and hurt you in the wild. If you disturb it and get too near to it, it may attempt to protect itself by clawing at you.

A sloth has muscular limbs that allow it to climb trees. It has exceptionally sharp and long claws to help it adjust to the jungle.

In the worst scenario, the sloth will use their teeth and claws to attack enemies.

The easiest way to avoid this is not to come too close to this animal. Its claws and teeth only act as a defense system.

So, where can you see sloths in the wild? It depends on the types of animals.

Let’s have a look at where each species calls home to determine the chance of you seeing one in the wild.

  • Linnaeus

Linnaeus belongs to the family of two-toed sloths. Tropical and subtropical forests are home to this species.

In Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, and the Guyanas, you can run into them.

  • Hoffmann

Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth prefers to live under the forest canopy in tropical rainforests. It lives in Peru, Honduras, Brazil, and Bolivia.

  • Maned sloth

The maned sloth belongs to the three-toed group. It is diurnal, which means it will show up throughout the day.

If you want to see this species in the wild, you’ll have to travel to Brazil and visit rainforests in Southeastern areas.

  • Pale-throated sloth

This species is also a member of the three-toed sloth group. The bright patch on its throat gives it the name.

This species lives in French Guiana, Brazil, South America, Venezuela, and Suriname.

Do sloths bite?

This question is the most frequently asked when it comes to approaching or being around these animals.

Sloths can bite, and they will if they sense dangers around them. The two-toed species is more likely to bite than the three-toed one; however, except for in extreme circumstances, neither will do so.

People used to think that this animal didn’t have teeth. In fact, they do have. Although they have fewer teeth than we do, all of them are sharp.

The sharp weapons make it easier for animals to eat plants and leaves. They use their teeth to rip leaves off and chew them.

The number of teeth of a sloth varies depending on the species. Three-toed sloths have eighteen teeth, ten on the upper jaw and eight on the lower jaw.

The teeth of a three-toed sloth are round. The ones at the front of its upper jaw are often smaller than the rest.

The two-toed sloth of Linnaeus may have four or five pairs of teeth. There are no incisors on those teeth, and they are only canines.

The teeth of these animals are not enamel-coated like ours. They have a dentin coating, which grows continuously.

Do sloths have the disease?

Another factor to consider when determining if sloths are dangerous to humans is whether they have diseases that may spread to humans.

Even if they actually carried viruses in the wild, they would never transmit them to people if they lived alone.

We wouldn’t have to worry about this problem if we won’t catch them from their natural environment and keep them.

A sloth can carry an arbovirus, which may cause sickness in people and other animals.

For these viruses, viral detection is quite uncommon. However, if you raise a sloth at home, you may risk suffering from the viruses.

Another concern in terms of diseases from a sloth is its fur. You may find some parasites on the fur.

Algae forms within the fur, giving sloths their green color. It aids a sloth’s ability to hide from enemies when clinging to trees.

Sloth beetles and moths thrive in the fur of some sloths. Other blood-sucking bugs, such as sandflies, mosquitos, lice, and ticks, can also breed in them.

While they aren’t extremely dangerous to the animals themselves, they might spread to you if you touch them.

Are sloths aggressive?

They aren’t naturally aggressive. They don’t attack people without a reason since they’d prefer to avoid fighting in the first place.

These species are not predators. They don’t see other species as food sources, so they have no reason to fight or become aggressive.

The climbers eat mostly leaves and vegetation. They rely on an extremely low-calorie diet, making them lack the energy to attack anyone or any animal.

These species use their sharp teeth to enjoy their plant-based meals, such as flowers, fruits, and sometimes insects. The teeth do not bite smaller animals.

However, the above behaviors don’t mean that the animals never get angry. They will become aggressive to protect themselves. They can claw or bite their predators with their molar teeth.

As you can see, these tree-climbing animals are difficult to hunt because they will fight back against their enemies.

A sloth only gets angry to defend itself

Interesting Facts About Sloths

Do you find these animals interesting? The following facts will even make you like them more.

Their grip always remains on the tree.

These animals spend most of their time in the trees that the tree even sometimes holds their life in its hands after they are dead.

Thanks to its muscles and claws, a sloth’s grip is so tight and strong. After they die, they may hang to the same limb they were resting on when they were living.

Its dirtiness is an ecosystem for other lives.

During the wet seasons, the sloth’s furry body has formed a deep groove that acts as a habitat for algae that may color the sloth’s fur green. This color helps it blend well with its surroundings.

Moths can live in the flurry area, where they eat algae while hiding from their predators.

All sloths have the same amount of claws.

The name may be an easy way to describe this peaceful creature, yet even natural names may be confusing.

While a two-toed sloth has just two claws on its forelimbs, both three-toed and two-toed species have three claws on their hindlimbs. Two-toed sloths refer to “two fingers” instead of “two toes.”

Sloths only go to the toilet once a week.

The diet of these species is one of the reasons why so many people think of them as lazy. They have a slow metabolism and must eat a lot of food to meet their dietary needs.

Because sloths take so long to process their food, they only defecate or urinate once a week.


Now that you’ve determined the dangerous level of these tree-climbing animals.

The following questions and answers will give more information about them.

Are sloths poisonous?

No. This animal uses poison in its bite to weaken prey before eating. Since they are not predators, they don’t need toxic bites for hunting.

Their teeth, on the other hand, cause painful and hard-to-heal bites. They rip a hole in the flesh that might take months to recover and leave an awful scar.

What happens if you touch a sloth?

This animal is sensitive. Touching it is dangerous because it may become stressed by the perfumes and lotions on humans.

If you keep touching it, it will get angry and use its claws or teeth to defend itself. It’s surely not the case that you expect.


So, are sloths dangerous? The answer depends on how you treat them.

If you keep a proper distance from these animals, they won’t hurt you. They only become aggressive to something they see as a threat.