The most famously slow animal on the planet needs little introduction. Native to the tropical rainforests of Latin America, where sloths apparently spend most of their life happily sleeping and cradled by the luscious canopy of the Amazon Rainforest, the sloth is nowadays a synonym for lazy couch-potatoes the world over.
Irresistibly cute couch-potatoes, that is! Along with fluffy kittens and orangutans building their own hammocks, sloths have become a bonafide internet sensation in recent years. With their permanently contented smiles, beady little sleepy eyes and adorably fluffy babies – sloth videos and photos have the ability to make grown men swoon with delight. Really! Did you know, that once upon a time, sloths were the size of elephants and incredibly aggressive?
The mind boggles. We know!
Here are 10 other fun facts about sloths that may just put a smile on your face:
1. Next time you catch yourself doing or saying something rather silly, take heart. Some sloths have been known to grab their own arms – mistaking them for tree branches – and end up falling to their death. *Sigh*
2. Sloths only enjoy, on average, one bowel movement a week. When they do finally do a #2, they can expel up to a third of their entire body weight.
3. Sloths are 3 times faster in water than they are on land. Their preferred swimming style is the backstroke.
4. As a means of self-preservation, sloths don’t stink (they don’t sweat at all) thus avoiding being detected by predators. However, just because they don’t smell, it certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t dirty! Sloths’ hairy coats are cosy habitats for innumerable colonies of insects, algae and bugs.
5. Ancient giant sloths – known as Megatherium – were believed to be up to 7 metres tall, weighed about 7 tonnes and had quite the aggressive disposition. Nowadays, you can see a full-scale skeleton of a Megatherium at London’s Natural History Museum.
6. The three-toed sloth can turn his head almost 360 degrees!
7. Sloths give birth whilst hanging upside down.
8. Sloth are actually built upside down! Well, sort of! Sloths spend an inordinate amount of time hanging upside down, something they can only do because their main organs are attached to their rib cage, so they don’t compress their lungs.
9. The sloths’ love of a long siesta is actually a misconception – recent research undertaken in the forests of Panama has shown that sloths only sleep between 8 and 10 hours a day, much like us.
10. At his fastest, a sloth will race you down the jungle floor at a blindingly fast speed of about 4 metres a minute! Oh…hang on….
Itching to enjoy a close and personal experience with this impossibly adorable creature? Then join us on an tour to Central America, or ask us how we can help you plan an unforgettable wildlife tour, including an adventure tour of Costa Rica with a visit to its world-renowned Sloth Sanctuary, one of the country’s most popular highlights.