15 Interesting Sloth Facts

Sloths have many fans worldwide. That’s because they’re one of the most fascinating and fun animals. But some people think they’re really weird. We hope you’ll become a fan of them, too!

When you look up “sloth” in the Bible, you see it described as one of the 7 deadliest sins. But if you like nature documentaries, you’ll know that a sloth is something else. The star of our article is a mammal whose habitat is South and Central America. In fact its favorite spots are forests, more specifically tall trees.

These tropical creatures are divided into 2 main categories. Here they are: two-toed sloth and three-toed sloth. Let’s take a look at each of them. The first category is made of individuals which are equipped with 2 fingers instead of 2 toes. Their forelimbs have 2 claws. The second category is made of sloths that have 3 fingers instead of 3 toes.

Their physical adaptations make it easy for these sloths to live in their preferred homes. The feet are curved; the arms are considerably longer than the legs. The hindlimbs of individuals from both categories have 3 claws. Compared to three-toed sloths, the two-toed ones have bigger bodies.

three-toed--sloth

Three-toed sloth

Another interesting fact: the sloths can weigh 18.75 pounds (that’s around 8 kilograms). Their average size is this: 23 – 27 inches (58 – 68 cm). The Pliocene age had the biggest sloths. During that time, which is around 11,000 years ago, a sloth called the giant Megatherium could be seen roaming around. To put its size into perspective: this animal was as big as the modern rhinoceros The habitat of this giant sloth was what we currently know as South America.

The diet of a sloth is made of leaves. But because these are very hard to digest, a slot needs 1 month till one meal is fully consumed. Another interesting fact: the sloths have an unusual stomach. It’s made of 4 parts and its function is very specific. The stomach’s purpose is to assimilate food through bacteria. Leaves don’t offer much energy to a sloth, even if it eats a lot of them.

Sloths are known for their quirky habits. For example, a sloth only bothers to leave its tree when it wants to swim. Another situation which involves leaving their home is when they’re in need of a bathroom. Before falling asleep, sloths prepare by hanging from a tree with their claws, then slowly curling into a ball. Social activities aren’t a thing with sloths in captivity; an exception to this is when they sleep with a different individual in the same tree. Also, sloths don’t live in groups. To shift themselves from tree to tree, they use lianas.

A sloth’s mating ritual is up next. The female will yell a mating scream at first. Males will then fight among themselves till the most powerful one wins. The gestation of a female sloth is 5 – 6 months. There is an exception here: a species called Hoffman’s two-toed has a gestation period that can extend to almost 12 months. The female gives birth to only 1 baby sloth. The latter will go away from its mom after 4 years of sticking around with her.

A sloth species known as Pygmy three-toed (Bradypus pygmaeus) is endangered by extinction according to the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s top 100 list. This tiny sloth lives on Escudo Island.

Pygmy-three-toed-sloth

Pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus)

Here are our top interesting and fun sloth facts:

  1. This animal’s scientific name is Bradypus (it means “slow feet” in Greek);
  2. A captive sloths sleeps 15 – 20 hours at one time;
  3. Those who aren’t captive require as much sleep as we, humans, do;
  4. Their moves are really slow (6 – 8 feet, or 1.8 – 2.4 meters, per minute);
  5. They wouldn’t be able to live in a cold climate because they can’t warm themselves up; in case a female sloth becomes cold, she’ll have problems digesting her food;
  6. They swim really well (they’re particularly great with breaststrokes);
  7. After a sloth dies, its body stays clinged to the tree branch it used to hang from when it was alive (sloths’ muscle and claws are extra strong when gripping stuff);
  8. A three-toed sloth is able to turn its head 270 degrees;
  9. The only time they’re vulnerable to a predator is when they use the toilet (that’s becaus sloth have to climb down from their trees to do that);
  10. They use the bathroom once a week;
  11. A sloth’s fur can be covered in algae, which is great as camouflage;
  12. A sloth’s main enemies are jaguars, snakes, and eagles;
  13. They are active at night;
  14. A sloth lives up to 40 years in the wild;
  15. There used to be a sloth species which lived in water and its name was Thalassocnus.

Did we convince you that sloths are actually great?

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