Sloth Facts

It's well-known that sloths are slow-moving animals – the slowest on the planet, in fact. Though there is so much more to this endearing animal than its very, very “lazy” pace of life. Here are some incredible and little-known facts about sloths that will fascinate you!

1) Sloths are over three times stronger than the average human due to a specialized muscle arrangement.

2) Sloths digest food (mainly leaves, tender shoots and buds) very slowly and poop about once per week, and the amount is almost a third of their body weight. They don’t relieve themselves in the trees but descend to the ground to do their business in a hole they make at the base of a tree. This behavior is still a mystery to scientists.

3) Sloths can sleep while hanging from trees thanks to special tendons in their hands and feet that lock in place. Sloths have even been found dead hanging in trees.

4) Due to a total lack of cone cells in their eyes, sloths are completely blind in bright daylight. Sloths also see poorly in low-light conditions. This helps explain, of course, why they move so slowly. However, their sense of smell and spatial memory are exceptional.

5) While sloths spend most of their lives in trees, they are rather good swimmers and move about three times faster in water than on land.

6) Sloths have two more vertebrae in their necks than any other mammal that allow them to turn their heads through 270 degrees. This also helps them keep their head above water when swimming.

7) A sloth’s anatomical design allows them to survive a fall from over 100 feet. In fact, sloths fall from trees about once per week during their entire life.

8) Sloths have 46 ribs (23 pairs) to support and protect their large four-chambered stomachs. That’s also more than any other mammal.

9) Sloth fur is an ecosystem unto itself that can host almost 950 moths and beetles at any given time. There is even a moth found nowhere else but in sloth fur. Various algae and fungi also call home to sloth fur.

10) Among the mysteries surrounding sloths is how long they live since they are exceedingly difficult to study in the wild. However, the oldest sloth in captivity is 50 years old.

“Every move a sloth makes is with purpose, which is more than most of us can say about 90% of the time.”

— Ann Burton

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