GUYS! GUYS! GUYS! WE SAW A SLOTH!!!
It was amazing. He/she was just hanging out (get it?!) in a tree right next to our local store. To mark the occasion, here are some awesome facts about our two- and three-toed friends:
- There are six sloth species in two different families. Two of these species are endangered, the other four are doing mighty fine for now.
- Sloths’ most famous attribute, their slow pace of movement, is primarily an energy saving adaptation. The food in their diet (mostly leaves) is so hard to digest and provides so little energy that sloths have super slow metabolisms and very low body temperatures, and thus they end up crawling through the forest at the speed of, well, a sloth.
- Another interesting effect of its low-energy diet? As much as two-thirds of a sloth’s body weight is in the contents of its leaf-filled stomach.
- Sloth fur grows in the opposite direction of other mammals. Why? Because they spend so much time hanging upside down. This follicle reversal means they are protected from the elements (i.e. rain) while suspended from the trees.
- A sloth is a miniature ecosystem. Sloth fur is usually populated by lots of algae, which forms the foundation of a food chain that ranges up to insects and other small invertebrates. There is even a type of moth that lays their eggs in sloth fur. Birds have been known to forage for these insects without the sloth seeming to mind.
- Their long, curved claws let them hang from branches with essentially no effort. They work so well, in fact, that sloths often remain hanging after they die.
- Those claws are good for at least one other thing, self-defense. Though their main anti-predation technique of not being seen in the first place is quite effective, a sloth can and will defend itself by slashing at a threat.
- Sloths only go to the bathroom about once a week. They climb down to the ground (usually to the same spot over and over again), dig a hole, relieve themselves, cover the hole, then climb back up. They will however, pee down from the tree when it is raining.
- Despite being slow and somewhat clumsy on the ground, sloths are atually pretty decent swimmers.
Now that you know so much about sloths, enjoy these pictures and GIFs!