How can you despise these cute little things?!
4 Fun Facts about Sloths via Boing Boing
Anything that looks like a miniature, happy Chewbacca just has to be awesome—and sloths do not disappoint. From tooth to poo pellet, the creatures of Order Pilosa, Suborder Folivora are as strange and fascinating as they are adorable.
1. They don’t actually sleep all that much
It is true that sloths are very still for most of the day. But that’s more about self-defense than laziness. The sloth mission statement can be summed up as, essentially, “Avoid being eaten by eagles.” Seriously, it’s a problem.
2. They’re smart–and fast
Just because sloths usually move slowly, doesn’t mean they’re physically limited to a snail’s pace. Donald Moore has first-hand experience with just how fast these creatures can go, when they really want.
“One female took a dislike to me. I’m one of the only sloth biologists who’s been bitten,” he said. “They can use their big claws and slash out. But what she did was run at me, upside down along a vine, as fast as a cat would run along the floor. She grabbed me and pulled my hand to her mouth and then bit. It all happened very quickly.”
3. Most of them can’t survive in zoos
There are six species of sloths—four species of three-toed sloths and two of the two-toed variety. Of those, only the two-toed species are frequently found in zoos. It comes down to an issue of movement and diet. In the wild, two-toed sloths move more than 40 meters a day through the treetops, said Moore. Three-toed sloths move much less.
The result: Two-toers have a more varied diet—enjoying everything from lettuce, to boiled yams, to grapes. (They really, really love grapes.)
4. They’re in a league of their their own
Sloths evolved in South America and, for most of their existence, that continent wasn’t connected to any others. They’re very old—their family tree, which also includes anteaters and armadillos, diverged from the rest of the mammals some 75-80 million years ago, when South America was still joined to Africa. They’re also pretty strange.
“Even the animals they’re most closely related to, anteaters and armadillos, are as different from sloths as whales are from bats,” Moore said.
Among the many sloth oddities is a very slow metabolism. They have the lowest body temperature of any mammal, Moore said, and they only use the bathroom once a week. That last bit has the added benefit of protecting them from predators, because their regular bathroom break is the only time sloths leave the trees. Even weirder, their digestive system is similar to a cow’s, with a specialized, multi-chambered stomach that allows them to fully process leaves.
“When dogs eat leaves, they come out relatively whole. When sloths eat leaves, they come out as little pellets at the end of the week,” Moore said.
How cool is that?!