Sloths (Megalonychidae) are the medium-sized mammals that occur in the tropical rainforests of the Central and South America. Sloths are unique in their physical appearance and features. Their long limbs and long shaggy coats make them stand out among the rest of the mammalian kingdom. They are almost the size of a large domestic cat.
Sloth Facts For Kids
- The sloth has pear-shaped bodies and its coat ranges in color from gray to brown. There are lighter fur around the animal’s heads and faces.
- It can reach size of a large bear and weighs as much as 9 kg (20 lb). However the West Indian sloth hardly grows greater than a black bear.
- Their teeth seem more like rounded cones.
- They have a 6 – 7 cm long tail but the length differs in some species.
- Sloths have adapted to living an arboreal lifestyle.
- Unique among its features is sloth’s tongue that can be extended 10 – 12 inches from their mouth. It is extremely helpful to get to the leaves that are far off from the animal’s reach.
- The stomach contents make two-thirds of the sloth’s body weight.
See also: Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth Facts
Distribution & Habitat
- Sloths are most likely to occur in the cloud forests and tropical rainforests. They breed to an altitude of 6,000 feet in Brazil, South America.
- If they are pushed out of their habitats they may not survive for their adaptability is exclusively for tropical rainforests. Sloths are extremely successful within their environment.
Feeding Diet and Ecology
- Sloths are herbivores and folivores. The leaves, buds, and tender shoots make up much of sloth’s diet. They are likely to consume Cecropia trees. Sloths supplement their diet with small reptiles, insects, and some birds.
- The leaves provide only little energy and because of this sloths have very low metabolic rates
- While they are not really active toward defending sloths do nevertheless use their strong claws as a natural defense.
- The harpy eagle, jaguar, and humans are probably the only predators of sloths.
- Sloths are not only expert climbers they are also excellent swimmers. The extinct ground sloths used to be the expert swimmers.
- They are one of the slowest movers even in the required circumstances. If the threat is nearby the sloth is likely to achieve a speed of 13 feet per minute. Even at this speed they burn too much energy.
- Thanks to its long limbs and curved claws which allows the animal to hang upside down with ease.
- Sloths are mostly seen sitting quietly on the branches. Moments later, they are asleep while hanging upside down. Sloths can not only eat while hanging from their limbs they can also give birth by so doing.
- The maximum possible speed which the three-toed sloth attains is 2 meter or 6.5 feet per minute.
- They are thought to fall asleep 16 – 18 hours a day. However recent study suggests that they sleep 10 hours each day.
- Two-toed sloths are nocturnal while the three-toed sloths are diurnal.
- Sloths go to the ground only when they have to urinate. After urinating they will cover the hole they dug before.
- They have a poor sight and hearing but they can smell from far off distance.
- The adult sloth seems to spend much of his time feeding on a single modal tree.