Why is the three-toed sloth unique?

In a world where speed can be the difference between life and death, sloths are an exception. These creatures move at a pace of 0.24 kilometres per hour or one foot per minute and are the slowest mammals on the planet. Believe it or not, this extreme ‘sloth’ on the part of the sloth is what keeps it safe.

During the day, these chilled-out tree huggers stay in the trees and hardly move at all. This is the reason they go mostly undetected by predators. They also grow a kind of green algae on their coats which helps them to blend into their surroundings. Predators such as eagles and jaguars who detect their prey based on movement simply do not see the sloth and hence, they remain safe up in their trees.

The only time these creatures are vulnerable is when they come down from the trees to poop! Most attacks on sloths happen at this time. But the good news is – they only poop once a week. This is because of their extremely slow metabolism, which means that they do not need to eat much. It also means that food takes about a month to pass through their digestive systems.

Found in tropical forests of Central and South America, the sluggish sloth grows to 76 cm and weighs up to 7.7 kg.

Sloths live for about 25 to 30 years. Females reproduce once a year and give birth to just one pup at a time. Threatened by deforestation and human encroachment, sloth populations across South America are believed to be declining, while the Pygmy sloth is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’.

Picture Credit : Google

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