10 Interesting Facts About The Sloths.
Who doesn’t love sloths? With those goofy grins on their faces, these tropical mammals live in Central and South America and spend their days hanging upside down. They’re known as the epitome of lazying around, but there’s so much more to them than that.
So let’s get into it. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about those things that grow moss on their back, now’s the time.
1. Sloths, so what are they?
Technically, two-toed sloths should be really called two-fingered Sloths because the difference is only their front limbs.
And speaking of those claws, they get pretty long and can grow to about three to four inches, which makes walking on the ground pretty difficult.
But evolution took care of that because sloths spend most of their time in trees, which brings us to number two.
2. They have on extra thing no other mammal has
Sloths have specialized anatomy that allows them to hang upside down. It’s like gravity doesn’t exist for them. Imagine a highly trained gymnast doing a handstand for many hours.
After a while, they’re gonna begin to shake and quiver or feel out of breath. But sloths are able to eat, mate, and give birth all while upside down.
And all of that without the weight of their internal organs pressing on their diaphragm and affecting their breathing.
How do you ask? Well, researchers have found that a sloth’s internal organs are anchored on the abdomen. That means that they keep the weight away from their diaphragm.
Typically, mammals only have seven cervical vertebrae — the same as humans. Biologists aren’t sure how they got this extra feature.
Usually, when this happens in the animal kingdom, it results in stillbirth, but the slow metabolism of the sloth may have made it less risky to have a higher number of vertebrae.
One cool feature of this is that the three-toed sloth can turn their heads up to an astonishing 270 degrees.
3. They like warm places
Thousands of years ago, sloths roamed North America, but today they can be found in South and Central America. They like to hang out in tall trees mostly in the rainforests, cloud forests, or mangroves.
The three-toed species has been found to spend their entire lives in the tree that they were born in. Talk about never wanting to move out. I see you trying to save money, lazy sloth.
4. Their slowness is their defense mechanism.
Now, I know we talked all about how slow sloths are, but what I find amazing is that this slowness is their defense mechanism. Generally being fast and swift in the animal kingdom is a good thing because for a predator it’s much easier to catch your prey.
However, sloths have gone in the opposite direction in terms of their evolution. Their strategy is invisibility, laying as still as possible and moving very slowly deep in the cover of trees so that no one can spot them. I’d say they’re careful, not slow.
5. Slow, slower, and slowest.
Sloths are considered the slowest-moving animals on the planet. They crawl only about one foot per minute. But while they’re slow climbers, they’re quite speedy in water. Mhm, watch out, Michael Phelps.
They’re naturally buoyant and can actually do the breaststroke like humans, which is really just another great evolutionary adaptation because rainforests are prone to seasonal flooding. So swimming is essential for their survival.
Swimming also helps them get to new places much faster, which is great when they’researching for a mate. You know, doesn’t matter if they’re two-toed, three-toed
6. They eat a lot of leaves
Living in trees sloths obviously eat a lot of foliage, but only the three-toed sloths are herbivores. Two-toed sloths are omnivorous, which means that they also eat bugs, small lizards, as well as fruit and leaves.
But all the leaves that they eat are really hard to digest, that’s why sloths have multi-chambered stomachs filled with bacteria that can break down the cellulose.
The leafy diet also doesn’t provide a lot of nutrition, which may account for their sluggish lifestyle since they don’t get a lot of energy from it.
7. Sloths Acting
Sloths mate and give birth in trees. But in the wild they are solitary animals, so first they need to find each other. Females climb down from the tree, which takes a while, and poop at the base of it.
That’s how they leave their scents, in case you were wondering. They also let out a shrill, monotone mating scream to let the males in the area know she’s ready. The males then start the slow race of getting to her.
If more than one male makes it there at the same time, they fight each other, violently swiping their claws at each other while upside down from tree branches. Once the deed is done,
successful gestation takes about five to six months for the pale-throated sloth and as much as 11.5 months for the Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth. All sloth mommies only give birth to one baby at a time.
8. Pooping, everyone does it
What goes in must come out, and sloths are well-known for the great trek that they take down from the tree. They do it once a week to poop. That’s right, once a week. And no, they’re never constipated.
They take that long to digest the food. It takes an average human about 12 to 48 hours to ingest, digest, and eliminate waste from food. But it can take up to a month for a sloth to digest a single meal.
it was so good, I’m taking my time. When sloths eliminate, they can lose about a third of their body weight. That’s a lot of poop.
9. Their fungi could cure cancer
Since sloths spend so much time in trees, their lush coat becomes covered in algae in the wild. This is great because it offers them protection from harpy eagles and other predators since they’re camouflaged.
Scientists have found that a range of fungi grow and thrive on their fur. But even more amazingly, they found that these fungi showed positive effects in battling human breast cancer strains.
So scientists, please keep studying the fungus on the backs of sloths because one day we might find a cure for cancer from it.
10. Animalogic has more amazing facts about all kinds of animals, not just sloths.
But Matt, what’s Animalogic? Well, if you loved these facts and want more, check out my friends at Animalogic.
It’s a great channel dedicated to finding out the most interesting and unique aspects of all animals. Hosted by scientific illustrator Danielle Dufault, the channel highlights an animal every week.
Animalogic Wild took the crew on an adventure in Costa Rica deep into the jungle to see these amazing sloths in the wild, as well as many other animals such as tapirs, jaguars, margays.