Info On Sloths – Learn (More) About Them & Love Them (More)

When thinking about sloths, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? That they are slow-moving? That they are lazy? That they are lovable? That they are soooooooo cute? All of the above? Sloths are so many things (lazy is not one of them, by the way) and in this article, I will provide some info on sloths. Hopefully, you will learn a thing or two about them and love them like I do.

In today’s article, I will discuss some sloth history, some sloth characteristics and behaviors, an important date for sloths, and some things to think about. At the end of it all, I hope to have provided you with some interesting information and some enjoyable reading. So, let’s begin…..

 

From The History Books

Way back when (35 to 40 million years ago), there was only one sloth species. Today, there are six. Although they shared some common characteristics, sloths of the past were also very different in many ways from sloths of the present. Some of the species of sloths that used to exist include:

  • The Megatherium sloth – this giant weighed over 5,000 lbs. and was able to stand over 12 feet tall. Plus, it could grow to be 20 feet long. This particular sloth became extinct around 11,000 years ago.
  • The Mylodontidae sloth – this sloth was able to use its massive claws (that were also flat and wide) to dig huge holes. 250 foot long holes and 130 foot long tunnels have been discovered to have been built by this particular sloth.
  • The Thalassocnus sloth – this sloth had long, hooked claws (that were also powerful) and used these claws to dig for food in the water, as well as to move itself forward while grabbing onto the ocean floor and fighting the waves. While this sloth lived in the water, it also spent some of its time living on land. This particular sloth became extinct around four million years ago.
  • The Diabolotherium sloth – this sloth lived in caves and was very skilled in climbing rocks (some Diabolotherium sloth fossils have been uncovered almost 1,000 feet up in the sides of cliffs). This particular sloth became extinct around 20,000 years ago.
  • The Megalonyx sloth (Megalonyx Jeffersonii) – this sloth was named after Thomas Jefferson. It is also the state fossil of West Virginia. This particular sloth went extinct around 11,000 years ago.
  • The Sibotherium Ka sloth – on August 25, 2020, this sloth was added to the list of sloths that used to exist.
  • The Megalocnus rodens – this sloth was the last ground sloth to go extinct, which happened approximately 4,200 years ago.

For additional information on sloth history, check out a previous article titled “Evolution Of Sloths – A Bit Of History“.

 

Living The Sloth Life

Some characteristics and behaviors of sloths are as follows:

  • There are six species of sloths divided into two categories: two-toed and three-toed sloths.
  • All sloths have three toes, even the two-toed ones (the two-toed ones only have two fingers…..confusing, right?).
  • Sloths live in the rainforests of Central and South America, spending most of their lives high in the trees hanging upside-down.
  • Sloths are the slowest-moving mammal on the planet. 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.”
  • Despite the fact that sloths are incredibly slow-moving animals, they actually know how to swim quite well. In addition, they are able to hold their breath for 40 minutes.
  • Sloths eat mostly leaves (which is one of the reasons that they move so slowly…..to save energy because of low caloric intake).
  • Sloths have a four-part stomach, which takes a long time to digest what they eat. That leaf that they ate earlier…..it can take up to 30 days to be digested.
  • Sloths have terrible eyesight (which is another reason that they move so slowly…..safety when travelling).
  • Sloths have slow metabolisms (which is yet another reason that they move so slowly…..to save energy).
  • Moving slowly is also strategic for sloths, because by moving slowly they don’t get noticed by their main predators (who hunt prey visually).
  • Sloths only “do their business” once or twice a week, which they do on the ground, quite often using their “favorite tree”.
  • The two closest relatives to sloths are the anteater and the armadillo. Two-toed and three-toed sloths are distant relatives.
  • Sloths have algae living on them. It works out well as the algae get water and shelter, and the sloths get valuable camouflage.
  • In 2019, a sloth named Paula celebrated her 50th birthday.
  • According to The Sloth Conservation Foundation, “…it seems likely that wild sloths may live longer in the wild than they do in captivity.”

 

A Special Day For A Special Animal

Since 2010, sloths have had their own special day, International Sloth Day, which occurs on October 20 of each year. This day was created by the non-profit foundation AIUNAU. According to AIUNAU, “It was created as necessity to bring the world of sloths and their forest to the citizens/people as a process of sensibilization towards wildlife. It is important to get to know these species so special, these cryptic and shy beings that inspire us and awaken our tender feelings. There is a lot that sloths can teach us – respect, tenderness, joy, pacific share ………… nevertheless, without consideration, in our lack of awareness, we harm them so much and bring their existence in danger of extinction.”

 

Things To Think About

All sloths are facing numerous threats, one species is vulnerable, and another species is critically endangered. The main threats that sloths are presented with are deforestation, vehicle collisions, electrocutions, and actions by humans such as poaching and illegal trafficking. Most pet sloths are snatched from their rainforest homes as part of this illegal smuggling, which leads me to the next thing to think about: for so many reasons, sloths do not make good pets. For more information about this, check out a previous article titled “Can Sloths Be Pets? They Are So Cute, But…..“.

 

The Wonderful Sloth

In this article, I presented some info on sloths. More specifically, I discussed some sloth history, some sloth characteristics and behaviors, an important date for sloths, and some things to think about. There is one more thing that I would like you to think about and consider: slow down and enjoy life more. Why rush through it when there is so much to see and enjoy? Why not be a little bit more like the sloth?

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any comments or questions, I would love to hear them. Please feel free to submit them below and I will be sure to get back to you.

If you’d like a little more sloth in your life or are thinking about a gift for someone else, check out my Product Reviews for some ideas. Also, be sure to watch for my online sloth merchandise store, which I am planning to launch in 2021.

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10 comments

  • Lemuel Sacop says:

    Hello and thank you about this article. I love everything about nature and this article about the animal Sloth certainly picked my interest. You certainly debunked the misconception in me about Sloth being lazy.

    I love your segment about living the sloth life and learned a lot about their characteristics, behaviors, and everything about why they move so slow, indeed they are the slowest moving mammal on earth.

    It’s sad that they are also victims of humans tampering with nature. In my hobby (planted aquariums), we also hate poaching and don’t support it, be it plants or animals.

    I learned a lot today from your article, and I will definitely check your article about “Do Sloths make for a good pet?”

    • Thank you for reading my article and commenting on it. I’m so glad that you learned something today and am so happy that you don’t support poaching.

      Enjoy your interesting hobby and continue to love everything about nature. 😊

  • I think they are so awesome! Thanks for brightening my day with these cuties.

  • Dear Michael
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to take. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
    Kind regards,
    Andrey

    • Thank you for your kind words, Andrey. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed visiting my website and always feel free to visit anytime.

      All the best,
      Michael

  • Michael,
    I never knew that sloths lived in Central and South America. Interesting. Could sloths live in other climates as well? Perhaps in a place that’s not so cold. I was interested in the species of sloth that went extinct as well. Thanks for the great information!

    • Hi Robert,

      I’m glad that you found my article interesting. Thank you for reading it and for commenting on it.

      Extinct sloths did indeed live in other climates, but the six species that currently exist are very well adapted to a living situation where it is always warm and humid. They have evolved and adapted over millions of years to feel right at home in the rainforests of Central and South America. But who knows how they will evolve and adapt in the future?

  • I get fascinated reading about the sloths on your website! After learning about sloths through your articles I find them super cute and highly adorable.

    Keep up the great informative work you are sharing with us all. It’s very much appreciated.

    All the best

    • Thank you so much. I appreciate your kind words and am glad to hear that you are enjoying my site.

      All the best to you, too.

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