There, in the treetops, lives the world’s slowest mammal; the three-toed sloth. They spend nearly their entire lives in the trees, as their long claws make it difficult to walk on the ground. These critters are so slow that algae literally grows on their fur. Their fur coat is also interesting, as it grows backwards from their stomach to their back. This helps to funnel rain water away from their bodies. Sloths use very little energy to move about the treetops due to the lack of energy they get from their poor nutritional diet. Three-toed sloths can be found in the forest canopies in Central and South America. The IUCN lists these amazing animals as Least Concern. They are affected by poaching and habitat loss though.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Bradypus
Weight: Up to 9 lbs.
Length: Up to 23 inches
Lifespan: Up to 30 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) There are 4 known species of three-toed sloths: the maned sloth, the brown-throated sloth, the pale-throated sloth, and the pygmy three-toed sloth which was only recently recognized as a distinct species in 2001.
2.) Today’s sloths are roughly the size of a cocker spaniel. However, ancient giant sloths, like the Megatherium grew to be as large as an Asian elephant!
3.) The sloth has evolved a multi-chambered stomach, similar to a cow’s, to digest the toxic leaves they eat.
4.) As mentioned before, they move so slowly that algae grows on their fur. This algae helps to provide protection, via camouflage, nutrients to their skin, and assists in developing the mini ecosystem sloths have living on and in their fur. Moths, cockroaches, beetles, and fungi all grow and live in their fur.
5.) They only move .15 mph!
But wait, there’s more on the three-toed sloth!
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Now a Short Three-Toed Sloth Video!
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