Sloths don't always receive the best reputation because, well, they don't do much. They are the slowest mammal on planet Earth and live most of their lives in the trees. The life of a sloth is truly fascinating and I hope that this listicle helps you grow your love for these weird creatures and helps you appreciate them a little bit more.
1. Three-toed & Two-toed
Many people think that two-toed and three-toed sloths are very similar but they actually aren't. They belong to two different families. The two-toed sloths belong to the Megalonychidae family and three-toed sloths belong to the Bradypodidae family. The reason that they are different families is due to convergent evolution. Convergent evolution is when two different species or genuses develop similar traits because of similar selective pressures in their environments. Two-toed sloths are closely related to ancient and extinct ground sloths in the families Megatheriidae and Nothrotheriidae, while the three-toed sloth is not.
2. Move so slow that moss grows on them
Sloths have a reputation for being one of the slowest moving animals on earth. In fact, a sloth's slow lifestyle allows algae to grow in its fur, causing its coat to develop a green tint. As the world's slowest mammal, algae grows on their fur coat.
3. Hibiscus flowers are sloth chocolate
To be honest I do not know exactly why sloths love hibiscus flowers but several Youtube videos show them eating them like crazy. Maybe the flower is sweet? Maybe it has some mood enhancement property? We may never know the exact reason but I know for sure that it is just so sweet to see this little guy eating a bright reddish pink flower.
4. They can turn their head 270 degrees
With extra neck vertebrae, they can turn their heads 270 degrees. Now in my personal opinion, I think that is pretty impressive. Owls also are able to turn their heads up to 270 degrees so I guess sloths and owls have that one cool fact in common. However, I think it would be quite terrifying to see a sloth slowly turning their head 270 degrees to stare me in the face.
5. They spend most of their hours of the day asleep
As a college student this sounds pretty nice. In college, you really don't get to sleep very much due to the fact that there is constantly work to finish or to start, and the papers and projects seem never-ending. Although sleeping all day sounds amazing, I also think that it would be very unproductive. Sloths sleep around 15-18 hours a day. That only leaves about 6-9 hours a day that they are awake.
6. They primarily stay above the ground
This fun fact makes complete sense. Sloths move so slow that I believe if they stayed on the ground too long a predator would eat them because the sloths wouldn't be fast enough to out crawl them. It's pretty sad but good for sloths for protecting themselves and staying up high above the ground.
7. They have the slowest metabolism
The hotter the environment, the more hyper the sloth; this has led sloth metabolism to be likened to that of reptiles. "Considering the sloths limited energy supply and the potential knock-on effects of a warming climate, we designed an experiment to find out."The researchers from the SCF, Swansea University and Queen's University Belfast in the UK, monitored eight adult three-fingered sloths (Bradypus variegatus) in a metabolic chamber. They worked out the resting metabolic rate, and then increased the temperature slowly from 21 to 34 degrees Celsius (69 to 93 Fahrenheit) – all temperatures that sloths would experience if they were in their jungle habitat."They use very little energy when it is cold (just like a reptile), lots of energy in the middle (between 26-30 degrees C° [78-86 F°]), but then as they get too hot, they begin to use less energy again."
8. Sloths are clumsy on land but are great swimmers
Using their patented sloth-y version of doggy paddle, they move through water up to three times faster than they move on land. They can slow their heart rate to one-third of its normal pace, allowing sloths to hold their breath underwater for up to 40 minutes. Who would have ever guessed that sloths can move faster in water than on land, especially 3 times faster. Also, them holding their breath for 40 minutes is pretty cool.
9. Their fur hosts an entire ecosystem
Sloths are known to host an entire ecosystem of invertebrate species that are unique to sloth fur. It has been reported that alongside the symbiotic fungi and algae that act as an effective form of camouflage, up to 950 moths, beetles, cockroaches, and even worms can be found on an individual sloth.
10. Baby sloths are the cutest things ever
Come on. Be honest. That is one of the sweetest faces ever. Yes, sloths may get slightly ugly when they start to age and grow up, but when they are babies they have giant eyes and the fluffiest fur. You know you are just wishing you could cuddle this little guy right about now.