International Sloth Day

Tuesday October 20 is international sloth day, a day to celebrate and learn more about these strange but wonderful creatures. I’ve seen one in the wild, fairly up close and personal. And while they are slow they aren’t that slow. I looked away from the sloth in a nearby tree for a minute, and when I looked back it was gone! It took me a few minutes to find it again. I wonder, if a sloth and a turtle raced, who would win?

Three-toed sloth - Bradypodidae - Luiaard | Panama, rondreis… | FlickrCompared to other animals, sloths do move slowly. So slowly, in fact, that algae grow on their fur. This pace of life is good for two reasons. One, since they don’t move much, it’s hard for predators to spot them. Two, the algae help camouflage sloths in the jungle. The reason they move so slowly and sleep up to 18 hours a day is because of their low-energy diet of leaves and the occasional piece of fruit. Even their digestive system is slow – it can take a month to digest some foods.

Sloths spend almost their entire living upside-down in a tree – eating, sleeping, mating, and giving birth. They do go down to the ground to poop, about once a week. And, when the rainforests in which they live flood (in Central and South America), they will use the opportunity to swim to a new tree; in fact, they are good swimmers (see for yourself here). That’s all for now…happy sloth day!