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14 Fun Facts About Sloths That'll Make You Love Them Even More

By Khristine Faith September 30, 2020 0 comments

Sloths are having a *moment* right now. Their adorable faces can be found on t-shirts, mugs, stickers, and in commercials. They're taking over kid toy aisles, are now a popular baby shower theme, and, of course, can turn Kristen Bell into a puddle of happy tears. But just when you thought you couldn't love these adorable animals more than you already do, you're presented with the following fun facts about sloths and, well, all bets are off.

Whether it's learning that there are actually two — count 'em, two — types of sloths, to how sloth moms give birth, to the impressive way they can turn their heads in a near-360 degree direction, these slow-moving tree dwellers are more than just a fad or craze. They might be nature's slowest animal, but the obsession with sloths is here to stay. In fact, like sloths themselves, it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

1 OF 14
There are two different kinds of sloths.

There are two types of sloths slowly roaming the rainforests in Central and South America: toed and three-toed sloths. Of the two different kinds of sloths, there are six different species. According to the World Wildlife Federation, the Pygmy three-toed sloth is critically endangered.

2 OF 14
Don't let their names fool you: they all have three "toes."

Even though sloths are divided into a "two-toed" and a "three-toed" group, they both have three claws on their back feet. Their front paws are where the differences lie. The two-toed variety just have two toes on their front feet, according to the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

3 OF 14
They rarely leave trees.

Much like some humans, these animals love to stay at home as much as possible. Sloths: they're just like us! By staying high above the ground in trees, they're able to keep themselves safe from would-be predators. According the BBC, a typical sloth only leaves the trees once a week, for a bathroom break to go number two.

4 OF 14
Sloth moms give birth in trees.

If you thought moms were tough, just wait until you hear about sloth moms! These caregivers actually give birth in the trees. Post birth, the sloth mom will scoop her baby up and put it on her belly (you can watch a rare wild birth video on National Geographic). This snuggly position keeps the baby protected. 

5 OF 14
They can hang upside down.

Spending the majority of their time hanging from tree branches seems like it would make it hard to breath, but according to research from Swansea University, sloths have been designed that way. Their internal organs are attached to the inside of their rib cage, which allows these mammals to hang upside down without putting pressure on their lungs. This allows them to breathe easy, no matter what position they're in.

6 OF 14
They Can Turn Their Heads Almost All the Way Around

According to National Geographic, the three-toed sloth has one or two extra vertebrae in their necks. This means that they can turn their head 270 degree! In other words, expect some over-the-shoulder side-eye if you disturb nap time.

7 OF 14
They're incredibly slow.

It's common knowledge that sloths are slow movers, but they don't take their time because they're lazy. The actually have a good reason for their laid-back lifestyle. Per the BBC, their molasses-like movements are part of their energy-saving techniques, which helps them regulate their body temperature.

8 OF 14
They're herbivores... most of the time.

These cuties spend most of their time snacking on leaves and fruit, living that vegetarian lifestyle. But every so often they might also snag protein from a larval insect or bird egg, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

9 OF 14
They have a massive stomach.

They love to eat, and much like a cow they have a stomach with four separate chambers. But because everything with a sloth is slow, it can take a sloth ten times longer to digest their food than a cow, according to National Geographic. A full belly can make up 20 to 30 percent of its body weight, but their slow digestive system means it could take close to a month to process one meal.

10 OF 14
They can turn green.

This slow-moving creature grows a layer of algae as a clever disguise, turning them green. The greenish-tint to their fur can help them camouflage in with the trees, according to National Geographic.

11 OF 14
Their fur doubles as a home for other creatures.

While they do groom and lick the algae off from time to time, the green goo can support a whole community of insects without the sloth moving a muscle. According to National Geographic, a typical sloth can play host to a hundreds of moths, beetles, cockroaches and worms.

12 OF 14
They love to swim.

While they aren’t known for being super sporty, Sloths actually love swimming. Sure, they aren’t cruising through the water like Michael Phelps, but according to National Geographic sloths do move three times faster in water than they do on land.

13 OF 14
They've been around since the Ice Age.

Well, not the cute little sloths of today. But the giant ground sloth, or the Megatherium, was the size of an elephant and roamed earth during the Ice Age. The creatures may have lived alongside humans, and been hunted by them, according to the UK’s Natural History Museum.

14 OF 14
They cherish their sleep.

This super-chill animal seems to do nothing but nap, and even when they are awake they make very few unnecessary movements. How much do they really snooze? The World Wildlife Federation estimates sloths sleep 15-20 hours a day. Sounds pretty great, right?

 


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