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Fun Facts about Sloths

  1. Sloths are great swimmers!

Although sloths move extremely slow on land, they are very adept at swimming. Sloths can swim up to three times faster than they move on land. Also, because of their slow metabolism, sloths can slow their heart rate to less than a third of the original. This means that they can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes!

  1.  Modern sloths are quite different than their ancient ancestors.

Sloths now are all very similar; they grow to be between 50-60 cm, and they live and move in trees. Ancient sloths were primarily ground dwellers. They also could grow to be up to 6 meters (20 ft), and weigh over 5 tons. Ancient sloths first emerged around 35 million years ago and became extinct around 10,000 years ago.

  1. Sloths’ parental instinct only goes so far.

Most animals will go to great lengths to care for and protect their young. Sloth mothers do the same, but only to a certain extent. For the first 3-8 months, sloth mothers go to exceptional lengths to protect their young. Their young cling to them, and the mothers use their claws to ward off predators. However, this protection seems to end if a baby should slip and fall. The fall alone won’t kill the baby, but the mother won’t risk the journey to save the helpless baby.

  1.  Sloth females know how to get what they want.

When sloth females are in heat, they emit a high-pitched, piercing scream. Female sloths only come into heat about once a year, so finding a male to mate with is extremely important. The females continue to scream until a wild male sloth finds them.

  1.  Sloths only go to the bathroom once a week.

Sloths spend their entire lives in the limbs of one single tree. They only leave their parent tree about once every 5-7 days. They leave their tree for one reason: to go to the bathroom. Sloths will leave their tree, defecate on the ground below it, bury it, and climb back into the tree. While it is not certain why sloths do this, the decomposition of the feces provides a great fertilizer for the tree.

 

Bonus: They are absolutely adorable!

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