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Interesting facts about sloths

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We found 20 interesting facts about sloths

The slowest mammals in the world

Sloths are cute, very slow animals that live only in trees, which is their whole world. Almost all important life processes take place there. They move awkwardly on the ground, crawl awkwardly, and stumble over uneven terrain. Unlike their ancestors, they do not know how to lift their bodies above the ground.


Sloths are the common name for two families of the order Xenarthra: three-toed sloths (Bradypodidae) and two-toed sloths (Megalonychidae).

Mili are a group of terrestrial placental mammals with reduced teeth. These include animals that differ in appearance and lifestyle, but have a similar anatomical structure: anteaters, sloths and armadillos.

Sloths, also called three-toed sloths, are a monotypic (only one genus) family of terrestrial arboreal mammals.

The only genus in this family is the sloth (Bradypus) with the following species:

  • spotted sloth
  • pygmy sloth
  • three-toed sloth
  • maned sloth

Sloths live in the forests of Central America and the northern regions of South America.

The oldest surviving tracks of sloths date back to the Pleistocene. At that time, sloths lived there - megatherium (“big beasts”), reaching the size of a modern elephant. Unlike its modern relatives, the tree sloths, Megatherium was one of the largest mammals to ever live on Earth, weighing 5 tons. Megatherium usually moved on all fours and also adopted a bipedal stance - it reached a height of about 6 m. Such large sizes allowed it to feed at heights that its modern herbivores could not reach. However, living in the sparsely forested areas of South America, they also ate yucca, agave leaves and grasses.

A characteristic feature of sloths is the presence of three long fingers and toes, armed with three powerful hook-shaped claws, thanks to which they can hang from tree branches.

The length of the claws is about 6 cm.

They are medium-sized animals, with a cylindrical body, thick and strong limbs and a small round head.

Their body length is 48,5 - 75,5 cm, their tail is rudimentary (in two-toed sloths it is reduced). The sloth's body weight is 2,5-10,1 kg. Females are usually larger and heavier than males.

The hind limbs of the sloth are shorter, the front ones are much longer and end with three fingers.

The fingers are tightly connected to each other and covered with common skin that prevents independent movements.

The sloth's fur consists of short, fluffy and long, bristly hairs.

The color depends on the species, for example, the fur of the maned sloth is light brown, the hair on the neck falls to the shoulders and is black. The three-toed sloth has gray fur, brown on the sides, and between the shoulder blades there is a lighter spot (mirror) with a dark pattern in the middle (the presence of such a dark stripe distinguishes the male from the female). This area contains a secretory gland, which is probably important during copulation.

The hair of the three-toed sloth grows from the belly to the back, which is undoubtedly associated with the “hanging” lifestyle and the climate in which it lives.

Bacteria and algae grow in sloths' fur, giving it a greenish color. The greenish color of the coat and the slow habits of sloths provide them with effective camouflage in a tree - silently hanging sloths resemble a bunch of branches. Sloths raised in zoos lose their algae. At the same time, 4 species of beetles and 9 species of moths constantly live in their fur.

The sloth has 18 constantly growing teeth: 10 on the upper jaw and 8 on the lower jaw.

Their structure is primitive, so it is impossible to distinguish molars from premolars. They lack incisors and fangs.

These are herbivores, their food consists of leaves, shoots, flowers and fruits.

They have a multi-chambered stomach in which bacteria live that feed on cellulose. Digestion occurs very slowly. Sloths come to the ground to defecate, but this happens only once a week.

The sloth's body temperature ranges from 30 to 34 degrees C.

Sloths regulate their temperature (like most mammals) not by changing their metabolic rate, but by moving from a sunny place to a shaded place. As a result, the calorie requirement is lower than that of other mammals of similar size. For this reason, sloths have enough plant food.

Sloths move very slowly, with an average speed of 0,24 km/h.

They lead a sedentary lifestyle, covering a distance of 24 m per day, of which 17 m during the day and 5 m at night. Movement takes them only 6-17% of their time during the day. These animals spend 60–80% of their daily waking time resting, 7–17% feeding, and 1–6% courting.

Animals mate at the end of the dry season and at the beginning of the rainy season (August-October).

The search for partners, mating, the act of copulation and, as a result, the birth of offspring occur in the treetops. The female usually gives birth to one calf per year, which she nurses for six months. Since they do not build nests, the offspring are attached to the mother's body until they grow up. Sloths reach sexual maturity after three years.

Sloths are solitary animals, with the exception of a mother and her baby.

They are peaceful towards the world around them, they do not need to defend themselves, since they are rarely attacked. They do not fight among themselves and live in the trees with monkeys.

Sloths are very resistant to infections.

Even deep bodily injuries do not lead to infection for them, as in other animals or people in these climatic conditions. Understanding this mechanism of immunity will make it possible to use it in medicine.

They are very good swimmers.

This is especially important during periodic floods of large rivers. They can stay underwater for up to 40 minutes without taking a breath.

They have very poor eyesight and hearing.

The most developed sense is taste.

Sloths do not need a special source of water to quench their thirst.

All they need is dew or raindrops.

Sloths have 9 cervical vertebrae (most mammals have 7).

This gives them the ability to turn their head 180 degrees.

The greatest threat to sloths comes from deforestation in South America.

They are also hunted by South American Indians for meat.
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