Sloths are adorable animals, so it may be tempting to own a sloth as a pet. Before buying a sloth, you'll want to ensure that a pet sloth is legal in your state. Only some states in the U.S. allow owning a pet sloth, and much of the pet sloth's legality revolves around particular sloth species. States that allow a pet sloth include Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In these states, people are free to own a two-toed pet sloth.
Twelve other states still allow a pet sloth, but proper documentation and permits are required. A two-toed sloth is legal in Florida as long as you obtain the correct license. In South Dakota, you can own a sloth, but you must have a health certificate. Remember that permitting may require volunteer hours, application fees, and routine health inspections to ensure your pet sloth receives the best care and has a suitable habitat in your home.
Sloths are naturally nocturnal animals which can make them harder to care for. Some sloths in captivity may change their sleep schedule and stay awake more during the day. It is important to remember though that being raised in captivity is not as good for the sloth’s health and well-being because the captive environment cannot completely replicate the sloth’s natural habitat.
Unlike many species of non-exotic wildlife, sloths do not like to be petted or groomed. This can be difficult for a pet owner. Sloths also do not have a way to show distress to displeasure that humans can understand, unlike most other animals. Owners, therefore, are not able to tell how a sloth is feeling. Sloths are definitely not suitable pets for a beginner or inexperienced pet owner.
In the wild, sloths enjoy climbing and sitting in high places. Recreating this environment in the home is essential, and often people will dedicate an entire room of their home with tree branches and structures to climb. Keep in mind sloths can be heavy, so you want to ensure their play environment is stable and secure. It is also important to keep the sloth in a room with high temperatures and very high humidity. Because most sloths live in rainforests in the wild, those in captivity need to spend most of their time in a room that mimics these conditions.
Sloths also have a very specialized diet. In the wild, sloths normally eat the leaves of trees, but finding leaves from Central and South American trees can be difficult. Often people will have to work with a local zoo or conservation office to obtain the right food. Vegetables and fruits can also be offered to the sloth.
As mentioned, sloths do not like to be groomed, so attempting to clean or bathe them will only cause distress for the sloth. They are able to keep themselves clean because of microorganisms that live in their fur. They do not require exercise, unlike many other pets.
Pet Sloth Legality
|New Jersey||Permit required|
|New Mexico||Permit required|
|North Dakota||Permit required|