Finally – an animal that we can all relate to. A sloth. Very interesting creature. When you see videos of them online, you might begin to wonder how did they actually survive as species, you know? Seems like natural selection should’ve taken care of them long time ago. But they’ve survived. And that’s because there’s a lot of secrets that these magnificent animals have. That being said, let’s get down to the 15 Unbelievable Facts About Sloths.
- Sloths are the slowest of all mammals. I guess this one’s not so much of a surprise, but this has to be laid out.
- While sloths are very slow on land, they make up for it in water. They are actually amazing swimmers. They can hold their breath underwater for up to 40 minutes.
- There are two types of sloths, or two different subspecies, rather. And believe me, the differences can be very hard to spot and it’s easy to confuse the two. There are two-toed and three-toed sloths. However, this can get confusing as both types have three claws, or ‘toes’, on their hind limbs. In reality, the ‘two-toed’ sloth should really be called the ‘two-fingered’ sloth as the difference between them both can be found on their front limbs.
- Another fun fact, sloths only defecate and urinate once a week. They also do this over and over in the same spot, making them vulnerable to predators who have even slight pattern recognition abilities.
- Sloths sleep for about 10 hours a day, even though it seems like they sleep all the time.
- Algae naturally grows on their fur, turning their fur into a green camouflage.
- Sloths are, for the most part, herbivores who eat mostly leaves and sometimes buds and tender roots. However, some sloths have been observed eating insects.
- The primary predators who prey on sloths are eagles, snakes and jaguars.
- Three-toed sloths can turn their heads at almost 360 degrees.
- The common ancestor that all sloths (two and three-toed) share is the giant ground sloth who roamed the Earth, albeit very slowly, Thousands of years ago. These historic sloths were the largest ones of all and weighed several tons and were 3.6 meters or 12 feet tall. While modern sloths are about the size of an average dog, the ancient giant ground sloths were the size of an African Elephant. They went extinct about 10,000 years ago, likely due to early humans hunting them.
- Sloths are known to have very bad senses and this is especially true when talking about their eyesight. They are, in fact, almost blind. Three-toed sloth mother can’t see her baby 1.5 meters of 5 feet away from her in clear daylight and combative male sloths have been observed trying to hit each other from a similar distance. Scientists say that this is caused due to a genetic mutation which causes three-toed sloths to be born without cone cells in their eyes, which are needed to detect colors. Because of this, they see in black and white and also see everything in very poor resolution. Bright daylight is known to blind them, which is not good for diurnal (daytime) animals to have.
- Everyone knows that sloths are – slow. Their reaction time is about the quarter of ours and they move at speeds of about 1.8 to 2.4 meters or 6 to 8 feet per minute. Three-toed sloths are the slowest animals on Earth, beating out other famously slow animals like giant tortoises and snails. Now, you would think that that is a huge evolutionary flaw, but it’s actually the reason why they have survived. You see, sloths mainly eat leaves, and it can take up to a month for their four-part stomachs to digest a single meal. Leaves aren’t very nutritious, so they have to conserve as much energy as possible to survive—and that means moving less. Plus, their slowliness actually makes them harder to be spotted by most predators like jaguars, ocelots, and harpy eagles, who mainly rely on movement to spot and hunt down their prey.
- Sloths are arboreal creatures, so they spend almost all of their time in trees. They mate, eat, sleep and even give birth hanging upside down, which is made possible by their unique anatomy.
- Slows can grow to be about 40 years of age.
- When female sloths want to mate, they create a loud, high-pitched scream to let male sloths know she’s ready to mate. If only it was that easy with human females…
And that’s it. Hopefully you’ve learned something new about our beloved sloths and if you know somebody who reminds you of one, you can always share this article with them 😉 And that’s it for the 15 Unbelievable Facts About Sloths article.