7 Fun Facts About Sloths You Really Want to Know
It might be one of the slowest mammals on earth, but the sloth has quickly skyrocketed to fame in recent years and stolen the hearts of animal lovers. It earned a spot on Disney’s Zootopia as a slow-moving employee at the Department of Motor Vehicles (ironically, his name was Flash!). Planet Earth 2 also included a segment on the three-toed sloth and its desperate search for love.
If you can’t get enough of this favorite little tree dweller, here are seven fun facts that will make you love these super cute creatures even more.
1. They Move Up to 15 Feet Per Minute
A distance that takes a human just seconds to travel will take a sloth a full minute or longer. They tend to move a little faster in trees, which is where they spend most of their time.
2. They Digest Food Slowly, Too
The sloth’s movements aren’t the only thing slow about them. Their diet consists mostly of leaves, which aren’t the greatest source for energy. It can take up to a month for them to fully digest a meal, which is why they’re in a seemingly perpetual state of sluggishness.
3. They’re a Living, Breathing Concession Stand
Sloths are so inactive that they have green algae that grow on their backs, which serves as a food source to several species of birds. The algae also acts as camouflage while the sloth hangs out in trees, which helps to ward off predators like harpy eagles and jaguars.
4. They Swim Faster than They Walk or Climb
Sloths are excellent swimmers and can move up to three times faster in the water than they do on land. They can also hold their breath underwater for up to 40 minutes! Planet Earth 2 highlighted a pygmy three-toed sloth's swimming skills as they set off in search of a mate.
5. Sloths are Devoted Parents
When baby sloths are born, they cling to their mothers for up to six months straight. After that, they don’t leave their mother’s side until they’re between two and four years of age.
6. Sloths Live Mostly in Trees
Sloths thrive in the tall mangrove forests or rainforests in South America. In fact, they spend most of their lives in the tree they were born in. The trees provide the sloth with the majority of its diet, including leaves, lizards, insects, and fruits.
The only time a sloth needs to leave its tree home is to relieve itself, and doing so is risky business. On the ground, the sloth is vulnerable to fast-moving predators.
7. Sloths are Introverts
If sloths were humans, they’d be among the 40% of the population who identifies themselves as introverts. Aside from mother sloths with babies, sloths live largely in isolation and only connect with others of their species to mate. But don’t feel bad for them - their busy sleeping schedule takes up about 10 hours of their day (sloths in captivity sleep for about 15 to 20 hours per day), so there’s little time for them to feel lonely.
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