Slowly but surely, the sloth

The sloth is a very interesting animal. It is a tropical mammal originally from Central and South America, known for being slow and even sleepy. Yet, while it is not exactly true, there is a lot more to them than that.

First of all, not all sloths are the same; as worldwildlife.org points out: There are two different types of sloths, two-toed and three-toed, and six species (Pygmy three-toed sloth, Maned sloth, Pale-throated sloth, Brown-throated sloth, Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth and Hoffman’s two-toed sloth. Their page at animals.mom.me website shows detailed descriptions of each present-day species of sloth. Thousands of years ago, sloths were much bigger, about the size of a rhinoceros or even an elephant. Some paleontologists think they could have been “opportunistic carnivores”, meaning that they would eat mainly plants although they might have enjoyed a bite of meat if the prey came easily enough.

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Nowadays sloths eat leaves, yet it is not that much of a light diet as you would guess; they have very slow metabolism, digesting one meal in their four-part stomach can take as much as a month. Plus, it is not a very nutritious diet and they don’t get much energy from it. Hence, they are slow; just not as slow as pop-culture will have you think. Actually, they may be clumsy on land but they are good swimmers.

Sometimes, during the rainy season, their fur may look green due to a symbiotic presence of algae colonies which help it camouflage in its environment. 

Some sloths can turn their necks up to 270 degrees around in either direction.

Sloths evacuate only once a week, and they do it on the same spot, which makes them easy prey for patient predators.

They have a life-span of 40 years. Their grip is so powerful that sometimes their bodies keep clinging on to the branch where they passed away.

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