Do you want to know what a sloth gets up to in an average day? Do you want to know how fast a sloth can move and how a sloth defends itself in the wild? Do you need to finish that pesky school project? Then this fact filled sloth book is perfect for you!
14 Cool Facts About Sloths
We all know how magnificent sloths are, so we thought we’d compile an easy to read list that keeps everything in one place. If you happen to know any more sloth facts, make your way over to the contact page and send us an email! We are always looking for more facts to add to our list.
Without wasting any more time, lets take a look at these cool sloth facts that will open your eyes to the true glory of sloths:
Sloth Fact 1 – Swimming Sloths
You wouldn’t believe it if you saw it, but sloths really are excellent swimmers. They use their long arms to pull themselves through the water with broad strokes.
The best part is they don’t go the ground and crawl to the water, they just flop into the water out of a tree! So not only are sloths practically Olympian swimmers, they’re Olympian divers as well.
Sloth Fact 2 – Getting It On
It’s a well known fact that sloths spend the majority of their time in the trees. When they go on the ground they’re vulnerable to predators. So when two sloths get a keen eye for each other they’ll go into the same tree and get it on whilst hanging from the same branch!
You’d think that since they move so slow it would take them a while to romance each other… Well I’ve got a surprise for you. It actually takes less than 10 seconds for sloths to mate with each other! Crazy, right?
Sloth Fact 3 – Mating Call
When a female sloth is in heat and wants to attract a male sloth, she doesn’t just flutter her sloth eyelashes. That would be far to easy and respectable.
Instead she starts screaming at the top of her lungs and it brings all the male sloths in the area to her tree. Despite sloths seeming like extremely lazy creatures they are rather persistent and efficient when it comes to mating!
Sloth Fact 4 – Stomach of the Sloth
A sloths stomach is split into 3 parts. The reason for this is because the leaves and twigs they eat are very hard to digest. In the first two compartments the leaves are broken down by symbiotic bacteria. It’s the last compartment of the sloths stomach that does all the typical digesting stomach work.
It can take up to a month to digest the leaves fully… In other words, even digesting food takes forever if you’re a sloth.
When a sloth is well-fed, the contents of its stomach will make up two-thirds of its body weight! Imagine dangling from a tree with all that food inside you. Say what you like about sloths being lazy, but that must at least take a bit of effort!
Sloth Fact 5 – A Sloths Defense Mechanism
The only weapon sloths have to defend themselves are their large claws. If a sloth gets cornered it will swipe at the predator with its claws hoping to wound the predator or scare it away. Its a complete last ditch attempt at saving its skin and most of the time it will be unsuccessful. Sloths simply aren’t built to fight.
The sloths real defense comes from being unreachable. They do this by staying high up in the trees away from all the action. Most predators can’t climb as high as a sloth and even if they could, they would most likely be too heavy for the branches to support them.
The power of the sloths defense doesn’t stop there, not only are they excellent climbers, they are excellent stealth machines. Simply spotting a sloth is hard enough, never mind climbing all the way up a tree to get to one!
You’d think a little sloth being that high up in the tree would be enough to keep it well hidden, well the wonderful sloths have decided to use another trick to be even more effective. Their fur acts a perfect camouflage up in the trees. Since sloths also move incredibly slow, you cant even wait for them to move to spot them. They will just look like a branch swaying in the wind.
Never doubt the sloths genius.
Sloth Fact 6 – Sturdy Sloths
Sloths are extremely sturdy animals and they very rarely die from a fall. When a baby sloth loses grip on their Mum they’ll more than likely survive the fall. The only reason they sometimes die is because the mother sloth doesn’t want to go on the ground to pick the baby sloth up because it would make her vulnerable! Nature is pretty sly.
They are also much stronger than they look. The video below is quite graphic and the sloth ends up losing the battle, but he puts up a hell of a fight. You can see how strong and sturdy the sloth is in the video – it can hold a puma’s weight for nearly a minute!
Seriously, the sloth is just holding on for his life while a puma dangles from him… The sloth is acting like this sort of thing happens every day.
Sloth Fact 7 – Speed of the Sloth
The average sloth moves at 2 metres a minute when on the ground and 3 metres a minute when in a tree. To put this into perspective, it would take 12.5 minutes to crawl the length of a swimming pool and 8.5 minutes to climb the length of a swimming pool! When in danger they can speed up a bit and move at 4 metres a minute.
I mean if the sloths really felt like trying, they could quite easily beat Usain Bolt in a race. But they’re lazy. Deal with it.
Sloth Fact 8 – The Average Age of a Sloth
If left alone a sloth can live up to 20 years! The only reason some species are going extinct is because their habitat keeps getting destroyed by humans. A lot of people believe sloths are going extinct because of predators, but that is simply not the case. Humans just need to leave them alone.
Not only does their habitat keep getting destroyed, but humans literally take them out of the environment and keep them as pets. Sloths are obviously not suited for pet life so this lowers their life expectancy as well…
Sloth Fact 9 – A Sloths Fur
Sloths have a very unique coat of fur. Since sloths spend pretty much all of their day hanging upside down their hair actually grows in the complete opposite direction to other mammals. Sloths hair grows away from their extremities to protect them from the rainy conditions of the rain forest.
A sloths ‘fur’ isn’t 100% hair… In the coat of a sloth you will find all sorts of creepy crawlies, mold and fungi growing. Lets just say they would need a few baths before the were close to clean.
Sloth Fact 10 – Sloth Body Temperature
Sloths have a very low body temperature compared to other mammals of their size. They also have an incredibly low metabolic rate. This is the reason they have to eat all the time, since the leaves are hard to digest they don’t provide a lot of energy to keep the body temperature up.
You’d think they’d do a bit of sun bathing being that high up in the trees, but not a lot of light can penetrate the canopy of the rain forest unfortunately. Plus its a rain forest so it rains all the time which doesn’t help with keeping you warm.
Sloth Fact 11 – Giant Monster Sloths
Sloths weren’t always small-ish little critters that hung around in the tress. Back in prehistoric time they used to be absolutely ginormous! They used to be about 5-7 metres tall and weighed nearly 7 tonnes! Imagine something like that dangling out a tree… Yeah, it’s not gonna happen.
These elephant sized sloths earned the nicknames ‘The Great Beast’ and ‘The Great Claw’.
Sloth Fact 12 – Stinky Sloths
Sloths have no body odor whatsoever! This is extremely favorable because predators find it really hard to see sloths that high up in the tree, so the last thing they would want is their stink giving them away.
We’re not saying that if you picked up a sloth right now and took a big whiff it would smell of nothing… Obviously it would stink. But like we mentioned above, the sloth is covered in mold, fungi and every insect under the sun. This masks the sloth and makes a sort of nose camouflage. Crafty sloths, is there anything they can’t do?
Sloth Fact 13 – Sloth Predators
Jaguars and pumas will hunt sloths when given the chance (check out the video near fact 6), but one of the most feared predators of the sloth is the harpy eagle. The harpy eagle has such good eye sight and strong talons that it can swoop down out of the sky and snatch a sloth right off its favorite branch.
Then we have humans, spoiler alert: we suck. We are a sloths worst nightmare. We are destroying their environment by chopping down their trees for space and resources. We hunt them for their meat and fur coat. We take them out of the environment and keep them as exotic pets.
They even get killed by power lines, they have no idea what they are so when they latch on like every other branch the get electrocuted to death.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, their are countless volunteers trying to save the sloths and the sloths aren’t going away without a fight. Keep supporting the causes and spread the word and we will save them!
Sloth Fact 14 – Dead Sloths
Sometimes when a sloth goes to a sloth heaven, the muscles and the claws are so strong that the sloth remains hanging upside down and doesn’t fall to the floor! Their body is that well designed for hanging upside down they can do it when they’re dead.
This is a deterrent for poachers as they have to climb all the way up the tree to bring it down. It’s sad that is happens, but its sort of a last act of revenge on the poachers by the sloth.