Sloths. Those adorable creatures that so many people have fallen in love with, myself included. There are sloth memes, sloth GIFs, sloth baby shower themes, sloth food themes, sloth shirts, sloth plates, sloth keychains, sloth stuffed toys, sloth exhibits, sloth rescue videos… the list could go on and on for quite some time. How much do you know about these gentle mammals? Do you know where they live? Do you know how slowly they move? Do you know whether or not they can swim? In this post, I will share some cool sloth facts with you in an attempt to educate and entertain you. My wish is for all of us to learn more about them and to appreciate them more. Perhaps we may also be able to learn a thing or two from them about slowing down and enjoying life more.
Sloths Live In The Trees….Way, Way Up In The Trees
Sloths are built for a slow-paced life way up in the trees, certainly not for speed on the ground. They live in the rainforests of Central and South America and spend most of their time high in the trees. They are nicely equipped for life up there as they have claws that are long, curved, sharp, and strong, as well as having long limbs. This combination provides them with an ability to hold securely onto tree branches. It is not very often that they will leave their treetop penthouse suites, which makes sense since trees and branches are part of their natural habitat. Sloths also enjoy the warmth of the sunshine as they will bask in it near the tops of trees.
Sloths Are Upside-Down Characters
Sloths are able to spend most of their lives hanging upside down, which is as a result of their biological makeup (their organs are situated in such a way that permits this). According to World Animal Protection, “The impressive biology of a sloth allows it to spend 90% of its life hanging upside down.” They will give birth upside down, too…yikes!
Sloths Only “Do Their Business” Once Or Twice A Week
The main reason that sloths leave their homes in the trees is to “do their business” once or twice a week, which they do on the ground. It must be quite the journey for them to take, as they slowly make their way from high in the trees to the ground below. Oftentimes, they will have a favourite tree picked out as a place to take care of this business.
Why Do Sloths Move So Slowly?
Sloths consume very few calories (they eat mostly leaves), they have slow metabolisms, and they have a four-part stomach that takes a long time to digest what they eat (it can take one leaf up to 30 days to be digested by a sloth’s stomach). This does not leave them with much energy, so moving slowly saves some of that energy for them. They tend to stay close to home and will only travel about 120 feet per day in the trees.
How Slowly Do Sloths Move?
Of all cool sloth facts, this one might be the most interesting one to think about. How slowly do sloths move? They move slowwwwwwwwwwly. Veryyyyyyyyy slowwwwwwwwly. Consider these facts:
- There is not a mammal on the planet that moves slower than the sloth.
- There are not many animals on the planet that move slower than the sloth.
- As beneficial as their long claws are to sloths for life in the trees, those same claws make walking on land cumbersome, awkward, and challenging for them. Research is varied as to how quickly (or how slowly) sloths move, but all conclusions are the same – they move very slowly. According to Science Kids, “Sloths can move along the ground at just 2 m (6.5 ft) per minute! In the trees they are slightly quicker at 3 m (10 ft) per minute.” World Animal Protection says, “…on the rare occasion that they find themselves at ground level, they crawl only 1 foot (30 cm) per minute.” However you look at it, no speed records will ever be broken by sloths, either on land or in the trees!
- This slowness, in addition to a uniqueness that sloths have regarding their fur, results in the existence of a great habitat on them for other creatures. Various critters can be found living in this habitat, including algae. A mutually beneficial situation exists between sloths and algae with this arrangement: the algae gets water and shelter, while the sloth receives camaflouge.
Sloths Know How To Swim Quite Well
This is one of those cool sloth facts that may surprise some people. Using their long limbs and their own version of a doggy paddle swimming technique, sloths can move themselves through water much quicker than they can move themselves on land (they are up to three times faster in the water). They are also able to hold their breath for 40 minutes, which seems incredible to me. There are times when sloths will drop down from their treetop perches, splashing into a body of water so that they can go for a swim. Check out this video of a sloth going for a swim, which was posted on December 7, 2019 by “Videos”.
To Learn About, To Learn From, And To Appreciate
Adorable, gentle, loveable. All these words (and so many more) can be used to describe the wonderful sloth. I hope that I’ve been able to provide you with some useful information about them here. I also hope that you have learned more about them, that you are able to appreciate them more, and that someday you may even love them (if you don’t already). Sloths face a number of threats, including human-related ones, which saddens me. I am, however, encouraged to see the many kind, caring people and organizations that have stepped forward to help the sloth. Sloths deserve to be safe and healthy and my wish is for them to have that safety and health at all times and in all places.
Even though this post is about cool sloth facts, I also encourage you to reflect on your own life, and possibly consider an opportunity to slow down and enjoy life more. To be a little bit more like the sloth. Thanks for reading and if you have anything that you’d like to share, I would love to see it and read about it.
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