Yesterday we saw our first sloth! Sloths are one of my favorite animals. We have been looking in the trees for them for a long time. In Brazil they call a sloth preguica, which means lazy.
It’s true that sloths don’t move much, but that is not because they’re lazy — it is so they won’t be noticcd by predators. They hang upside down, motionless from the canopy branches of cecropia trees for days at a time, munching on leaves when the spirit moves them.
Did you know that sloths don’t defecate from their perch? The reason is that predators would note their presence from the scent on the ground below. So sloths come down about once a week, trek some distance from their tree to defecate, bury their feces to hide the smell and then lumber back up to their perch.
Other sloth quirks:
–Their fur grows forward (rather than back like all other animals) so that rains drains off them while hanging upside down.
— Each hair has tiny pits all along it that serve as “planters” for an algae that grows on the sloth and turns them green — a great camoflage benefit when you live among leaves.
— The sloth’s “home-grown” algae is highly nutritious so the sloth slurps down the green algal slime that it gathers when it grooms its coat with its scoop-shaped toenails.
— Like its hair, the sloths toenails face forward and are not retractable. That means their babies must climb onto mom’s back by themsevles and hang on for dear life. If they fall off, well, they’re on their own.