As kids, our ideal day would usually consist of relentless activity and exciting adventures. And as we grow older and get busy with our respective lives, a lazy day of food and sleep seems like heavenly bliss. To that end, sloths definitely have their priorities straight. They are lethargic and have no regrets, to say the least. Their nomenclature is influenced by the deadly sin of sloth, which primarily refers to an unwillingness to participate in anything productive.
What Do Sloths Look Like?
In appearance, sloths are monkey-like. They have lanky limbs but a stout body. Their heads are characterized by their flatness, little ears, and large eyes. It may be surprising for you to know that they are distantly related to armadillos. There are six species of sloths, all of which have undergone different adaptations to suit their surroundings.
The Sluggishness of Sloths
Have you ever wanted to stay in bed forever? If you have, then you know what sloths feel like. They hardly subject themselves to any movement if they can help it. Once a week, they might or might not get down from their canopy in search of food. To be fair, they find trees more secure from poachers and predator animals. Furthermore, sloths have algae grow on their fur because of their immobility.
They can sleep for up to 20 hours a day! Earlier it was believed that an average sloth needs about 15 hours of sleep, which does not leave them much time to commute from tree to tree and be active. This was recently disputed in a study by Dr. Neil Rattenborg and his associates of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany. According to them, sloths sleep just about 10 hours on a regular basis.
Their body temperature remains low. They position themselves in a manner where they can obtain their desired temperature. Moreover, sloths prove that being slow is not always a bad idea, contrary to our ordinary perception.
Why are Sloths Slow?
Apparently, sloths have the reputation as the slowest animal in the world. When they are crawling on the ground, their average speed rate is only one foot per minute. But why is this so?
Nature has fashioned our bodies to suit our needs. However, the very low metabolic rate of sloths makes it impossible for them to move fast, even if they want to. In fact, these slow creatures cannot consume a lot of food because of their low metabolic rate, hence, not acquiring adequate energy. Their bodies try to conserve the maximum energy as much as possible.
As a result, when they do move, their speed remains more or less slow. According to National Geographic Kids, the only time sloths can naturally move faster is under the immediate threat of a predator. Then they experience bursts of energy, and if cornered they attack their opponents.
The sloths have a natural advantage of being as sluggish. Since they do not usually get down from their canopies, they are exposed to fewer risks. The natural camouflaging and their lack of movement make them difficult to spot among the leaves and branches. The green algae on their body help them effortlessly merge with the trees.
Due to their low metabolic rate, their bodies take more time to digest food and create energy. Sloths constantly need to save up energy in cases of emergencies. Their laziness is a natural way of energy conservation
Where Can You Find Sloths?
Sloths are not very common, a reason they make for an exciting study. In fact, they inhabit the tropical forested areas in Central and South America, like Brazil, Panama, and Costa Rica, to name a few. The animals love to lead an isolated existence and remain confined within the tree canopies. They use canopy vines for their medium of travel. In some cases, sloths can also develop an inclination to swim and can be discovered in the water.
Sloths as Pets?
Even though it’s not advisable, some people actually invest in taking care of sloths as pets. It’s expensive since the price of a baby sloth usually ranges from $700 to $4000, which varies depending on the chosen species.