Did you know: The Sloth Carries An Ecosystem On Its Back 🎥
Updated: Dec 25, 2019
Sloths are arboreal (living in trees) mammals noted for slowness of movement and for spending most of their lives hanging upside down in the trees of the tropical rain forests of South America and Central America. The six species are in two families: two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths. Sloths are part of the order Pilosa so they are related to anteaters and armadillos. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloth)
Sloths are solitary creatures that rarely interact with one another outside of the breeding season. But they have little time to feel deserted given their rigorous sleep schedule. Captive sloths typically sleep for 15 to 20 hours per day, while wild sloths rarely rest for more than 10 hours, according to research by Planck Institute for Ornithology in Starnberg, Germany. Sloths prefer sleeping while curled into a ball in the fork of a tropical tree.
They use their long claws - 8 to 10 centimeters - hanging on to branches while they eat. Sloths mainly eat the tree buds, new shoots, fruit and leaves of the Cecropia tree (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecropia). Some two-toed sloths also eat insects, small reptiles and birds. Sloths are the slowest mammal on earth; they spend most of their time in the tall trees they call home because the long claws make walking on the ground difficult becoming therefore easy prey for predators e.g. jaguars, large birds of prey, snakes and humans. In addition the claws are their only natural defense against predators. Sloths usually only leave the tree they live in to “do a poo” and that is once a week on the ground! And when they do, they make it count, pooping over 30% of their body weight. But this is when they are most vulnerable to being attacked by their main predators.
Two-toed sloths are nocturnal, being most active at night while three-toed sloths are diurnal which means they are most active during the day.
Sloths also mate and give birth in trees with one baby at a time once a year. Courting starts when a female yells a shrill, monoton mating scream to let the males in the area know she is ready. If more than one male answers this call, the suitors will fight for her by hanging from branches by their feet and swiping at each other. These altercations, though rare, can be surprisingly violent. The young sloths cling to their mother's belly until they are able to feed themselves, which can take anywhere from five weeks to six months (according to the Encyclopedia Britannica). Even after they stop dangling from their mother, little sloths stay by their mother's side for two to four years, depending on their species In the wild, sloths live on average 10 to 16 years and in captivity for over 30 years.
The slow movement and unique thick fur texture of the sloth make it a great habitat for other creatures such as moths, beetles, cockroaches, fungi and algae. Actually, this green coloured algae provides a camouflage so sloth can avoid predators. An added benefit is of the ecosystem which the sloths coat supports may have a number of disease fighting benefits in the field of medical research. Yet another reminder of the imperative to protect all natural systems (even if it is only from a self interested point of view). We won't know what we have until it's gone. For more information check out this interesting website: https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/fungi-sloth-fur-could-have-wide-variety-disease-fighting-implications/
Science Insider, 16 Dec 2019 “The Extreme Life Of A Sloth” (4:35)
This blog coincides with our first introduction blog photo (sloth) to our website on the 24th of December 2017 - we would like to thank our dedicated readers for their interest. It has been a great journey with now over 170+ blogs to choose from. All our contributors strive to play a small part in helping to correct course. Our precious home needs our collective energy - now.
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Enviroblog, since December 2017
Livescience, Nov 2018 (viewed 23.12.2019)