WTF Fun Fact 13674 – Sloth Facts

Everybody loves weird animal facts, but we were surprised at how much fun we had learning about these sloth facts.

Sloths, those slow-moving creatures often seen hanging from the trees of Central and South America, captivate many with their laid-back lifestyle and seemingly permanent smiles. But there’s more to these creatures than meets the eye.

Masters of the Slow Lane

First and foremost, sloths are known for their exceptionally slow movement. This deliberate pace is not just a quirk; it’s a survival strategy. By moving slowly, sloths become difficult to detect by predators such as eagles and jaguars. Their slow metabolism, suited to digesting leaves with low nutritional value, necessitates this leisurely pace.

One cool sloth fact: A sloth can take up to a month to digest a single meal!

Aquatic Sloth Facts

One of the most surprising sloth facts is their proficiency in water. Despite their arboreal lifestyle, sloths are excellent swimmers. They can hold their breath underwater for up to 40 minutes, an ability that surpasses that of many aquatic animals.

This skill is facilitated by their ability to slow their heart rates, conserving oxygen while submerged. Swimming is also the only time sloths move swiftly, using their long arms to propel themselves through water.

Furry Sloth Facts

Sloth fur is a mini-ecosystem. The greenish tint of their coats comes from algae that grow in their fur. This symbiotic relationship benefits both parties: the algae gain a place to live, and the sloths receive camouflage, blending in with the greenery of the forest.

Furthermore, the fur hosts a variety of insects and microorganisms, some of which are found nowhere else.

Sky-High Bathroom Breaks

Sloths descend from their tree-top homes about once a week to relieve themselves on the forest floor. This behavior puzzles scientists since it puts the sloth at risk of predation. One theory suggests this ritual helps maintain the ecosystem in their fur, fertilizing the algae they host. Another idea is that it aids in reproduction, allowing sloths to leave their scent on the ground for potential mates.

Built-in Umbrella

Sloths have adapted to their rainy environment in remarkable ways. Their fur grows in the opposite direction of most mammals, from their stomach to their back. This unique growth pattern allows water to run off more efficiently during rainstorms, essentially providing a built-in umbrella. This adaptation ensures sloths stay as dry as possible in their damp forest habitats.

Solitary Sloth Facts

Sloths are solitary creatures. They spend the majority of their lives alone, coming together only to mate. Even then, interactions are brief. Their solitary nature is reflected in their territorial behavior, with individual sloths having their own preferred trees and branches. Despite their isolation, sloths are not completely antisocial. Mothers are nurturing, caring for their young for months, teaching them which leaves are best to eat and how to navigate the treetops.

Night Owls of the Forest

Contrary to what one might expect, sloths are not always sleeping. Though they can sleep up to 20 hours a day, sloths are primarily nocturnal and become more active at night.

During the day, they rest in the safety of the treetops, conserving energy for their nightly activities. This nocturnal lifestyle helps sloths avoid diurnal predators and find food with less competition.

Pretty cool, right? Who knew?!

 WTF fun facts

Source: “A Sloth Can Hold Its Breath for 40 Minutes Underwater — and 6 Other Facts For International Sloth Day” — Travel + Leisure

WTF Fun Fact 12812 – The Mating Calls of Female Sloths

One thing we all know about sloths is that they’re slow. In fact, it’s pretty rare to witness a sloth moving at all, much less making the effort to mate. But female sloths have found a solution that allows them to find a partner with relatively little effort – screaming.

The sex of sloths

Three-fingered sloths, in particular, are hard to tell apart when it comes to determining their sex. According to Sloth Conservation (cited below) “Both sexes have a shaggy black mane around their necks. The appearance of the mane is unique to each individual, and it is not currently obvious if there is any sexual dimorphism in regards to its appearance.”

That doesn’t mean two-fingered sloths are any easier to tell apart. “In two-fingered sloths, distinguishing between males and females is notoriously difficult. This has led to some embarrassing mistakes at zoos and rescue centers, where two sloths thought to be of the same sex have been put into the same enclosure, only to produce a newborn baby some months later!”

The mating female sloth

One way you can tell male and female sloths apart is their mating behavior. It’s unknown if sloths have a specific mating season, but they’re fertile for about one week out of every month. And they let everyone know about it!

While their activity level increases during fertile periods, it’s mostly to produce vocalizations. Female sloths don’t walk around looking for mates – they sit in trees and scream incredibly loud to let males know they’re “available.”

The Sloth Conservation Foundation confirms: “These vocalizations, or “screams”, sound like bird calls or shrill whistles. She will do this for eight to ten days every single month, with the vocalizations increasing in frequency until she is screaming every 10 to 15 minutes. The male three-fingered sloths get very excited when they hear this call and will go in search of the female making it.”

Sound a lot easier than dating!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Sloth Mating: Not as slow as you think” — Sloth Conservation