The sloth animal is a mammal with its species belonging to two families – Megalonchidae and Bradypoidae. Members of these families are also commonly referred to as two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths, respectively. They are further classified into six species.This tree-dwelling animal is native to the regions of Central as well as South America. Interesting Sloth facts are discussed below with mating, eating and other habits.
The animal is identified by its big eyes, a short snout and long legs. In addition, it also possesses tiny ears and flat hands. Members of some species also have short tails which are 6 to 7 centimeters long. Typically, the size of a fully grown sloth ranges between 50 and 70 centimeters. Its entire body is covered with fur which may be brown, grey, tan or white in color. Another characteristic feature of the animal is its long claws which enable it to climb up high trees.
Being an omnivore, the sloth animal chooses between both animal as well as plant matter as part of its diet. However, most species prefer to feed on tree leaves. The animal’s digestive system is complex and consists of a four-part stomach system for proper digestion of the tough plant matter. This digestion occurs with the help of friendly bacteria present in the animal’s gut.
A diet comprising mostly of leaves fails to provide sufficient energy to the animal. Due to this reason, it is rather slow and sluggish in its activities.
Mating Behavior and Reproduction
Courting between two mates begins by a mating call produced by the female. In response, several male contenders compete to get to the female. The winning male then mates with the female up in a tree. The entire gestation period up till the birth is also spent in trees. The duration of this period ranges from seven to ten months depending upon the type of species. At a time, only one baby is born.
The animal’s behavior can be explained through the following characteristics.
- It is a nocturnal creature and spends most part of the day sleeping. It is most active after sundown.
- The male is a shy organism and prefers to spend a solitary life. Females, on the other hand, are known to congregate together at times.
- The animal moves very slowly. It possesses only the half the muscle tissues which other organisms of the same size or weight possess. However, it is capable of attaining higher speeds if it is endangered by a chasing animal. Its highest speed is 24 kilometers per hour.
- It prefers to nest in palm tree crowns where it can camouflage as coconuts.
Following are some really interesting sloth animal facts.
- Two extinct species of the animal – aquatic sloths and ground sloths – have been known to grow as large in size as elephants.
- One meal taken by the animal can take up to a month to be completely digested.
- Due to its long claws, the organism is unable to walk properly on ground. Therefore, it spends most of its time on tress and is classified as an arboreal animal. It is also a good swimmer.
- Although the animal is slow and cannot efficiently run away from a predator, its long claws offer an effective defense against attackers.
- It defecates and urinates only once in an entire week. However, it goes to the same spot for this purpose which increases its vulnerability to predators.
- Although it is known to be slow and sluggish, it sleeps for no more than ten hours in a day.
- Its fur can be regarded as a small ecosystem which provides habitat to several small parasitic insects. Two types of algae grow on the fur which form a symbiotic relationship with the animal. The latter provides a safe habitat to the algae while the algae provide a camouflage to the animal among the trees against potential predators.
- Since its diet comprises mainly plant matter – including leaves, shoots and buds – the animal is classified as a folivore.
- The long claws of the animal are almost four inches in length and help it hold on to trees and have a firm grip. This grip is maintained even after the animal dies.
- Members belonging to the Bradipoidae family can rotate their heads at 360 degrees.
- They spend a solitary life. The only time the animal is together with another individual of its species is when it has to mate.
- Whether they are known as two-toed or three-toed, members of all species possess three toes.
- Animals like snake, jaguars and eagles can be its potential predators. However, it blends well with trees and does not catch much attention of hungry predators since it moves slowly and quietly. Therefore, it lives up to quite a long lifespan which ranges between twenty-five to forty years.
- The animal has appeared as a famous animated character known as “Sid” in the Hollywood blockbuster “The Ice Age”.
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