WTF Fun Fact 13326 – Sloth Poop

How much do you know about sloth poop? Did you know that sloths only defecate once a week?

What’s interesting about sloth poop?

Because they only poop once a week, sloths can lose up to one-third of their body weight in a single bowel movement.

While most animals poop once or a few times a day, sloths are infrequent poopers. That’s because sloths have a unique digestive system that processes food very slowly. In fact, it can take up to a month for a sloth to digest a single meal. That’s why they don’t need to eat as often as other animals.

The sloth’s digestive tract is designed to extract as many nutrients as possible from food. That means there’s relatively very little leftover to produce waste. Waste is stored in a special sac in the lower part of the sloth’s large intestine. This builds up over time until the sloth is finally ready to poop.

When a sloth has the urge to go, it makes a trip down from the trees to the ground. Because they’re slow-moving, this is a dangerous trip that makes them vulnerable to predators on the ground. But the urge to go is so strong that sloths take the risk.

Once they reach the ground, sloths dig a small hole to “make their deposit.” The feces of a sloth is a valuable source of nutrients for the ecosystem. It’s important to other animals like moths and beetles that feed on it.

Other infrequent poopers

Armadillos are primarily insectivores, meaning they mostly eat insects such as beetles, termites, and ants. And because insects are high in protein and nutrients, armadillos don’t need to eat as frequently as other animals, so their digestive systems have adapted accordingly.

The slow metabolism of the armadillo and its unique digestive system also give the animal the ability to conserve water. This is an important adaptation for living in hot and dry environments. By holding onto their waste for longer periods of time, the animals are able to absorb more water from their food. This reduces the amount of water they need to drink.

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Source: “Sloths Only Poop Once a Week — But They Make It a Good One” — How Stuff Works

WTF Fun Fact 12580 – African Elephant Poop

Elephants are the largest land mammals in the world. So it’s logical to believe that they would do everything in a big way. We just didn’t realize HOW big.

Looking at the facts, it makes sense that an adult African elephant could produce over 300 pounds of poop per day. Males can grow up to 13 feet high and weigh 7 tons (that’s 14,000 pounds!). Females weigh about half of that.

It’s no surprise that they produce so much poop, considering how much they eat and how their digestive systems work. African elephants eat about 4-7% of their body weight in grasses, herbs, fruit, plants, and trees each day. And that vegetarian diet must be doing something right because they can live to be around 70 years old.

Of course, that same diet is also hard to process, so most of it comes out in their waste products. The rest is absorbed for nutrients while they sleep.

And sometimes, those elephants need those calories when they’re on the move – they can walk up to 120 miles a day (but their average is closer to 15 miles). If necessary, they can also use that energy to run. In fact, an elephant can run much faster than a human, reaching speeds of 40mph!

But back to the fact at hand. Elephants produce about 300 pounds of dung per day. So much that 1) we’re glad we don’t have to clean it up, and 2) some animals (such as dung beetles and specific monkey species) have evolved to eat this feces. The latter makes sense since much of the food is not digested and would still contain some nutrients.

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Source: “African Elephant Facts” — Elephants for Africa