Sloths do more than just sleep, slow down DMV lines, and drive way over the speed limit. Here are just some fast facts about these slow yet strange creatures.
Sloths go to the bathroom only once a week
Once a week a sloth climbs down from the high safety of their tree, digs a hole in the exact same spot every time, defecates or pees, covers the hole, and…either makes it back up the tree or gets eaten by a jaguar.
Actually, most sloth deaths are the result of bathroom breaks, since it’s almost impossible to defend yourself when you’re both slow and in mid-stream. Why a sloth keeps going back to the spot, making it far more vulnerable to animals who pay attention to such routine behavior, remains a mystery. Some say it’s because the sloth is fertilizing its favorite tree. But others think it’s because that’s where he keeps his Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader.
Sloths spend most of their lives upside down…even though they shouldn’t
A sloth’s stomach takes up about 20% to 30% of the animal’s weight (both because of its size and the fact it only poops once a week). By hanging upside down, all logic would indicate that this massive tummy would press down on its lungs, making breathing extremely difficult. But the sloth has certain internal “attachments” that hold the stomach in place and prevent it from crushing through everything and coming out the mouth. In short, even when doing the absolute wrong thing the sloth figures out the right way to handle it.
The sloth slowly transforms into an Oscar the Grouch…that eats itself
Sloths are so easy-going they let entire ecosystems live in their fur. Hundreds of sloth moths—so called because they live nowhere else—burrow in the furrow and live out their entire lives there, perhaps due to favorable conditions or rent control. When they die, their bodies decay and slowly cover the sloth in a green algae. A green, nutritious algae that the sloths eat while all the other animals look on in amazement and terror.
Sloths won’t drop dead even after they die
Sloths spend almost their entire lives in trees for safety…and then spend a good deal of their death up their, too. That’s because a sloth’s grip is so tight that even when they pass away they still hold on to a tree branch, until after the funeral, after the cold cut platter has been put away from the wake, and after several days until the family decides it’s a little creepy just having the late Uncle Phil hang there like that.
Sloths are just like cows
Like a cow (or deer or giraffe or perhaps more sedate Hunger Games muttation), a sloth has a four-chambered stomach, perfect for fermenting and digesting a plant-based diet. But even though a sloth is much smaller than a cow it actually takes ten time longer for food to pass through its stomach. This means at any point a good deal of a sloth weight consists of waiting urine and poop, which explains why they go to the bathroom only once a week.
Sloths are also like owls
Both owls and sloths can rotate their heads a full 270°. This is ideal for any animal that needs to be constantly vigilant or enjoys being continuously paranoid. This is also perfect for an animal that can’t exactly make a run for it at a moment’s notice and needs to routinely survey all it surroundings so it can get a good two or three-week head start.
And sloths once were as large as elephants
Meet the Megatherium, otherwise known as the Ice Age ground sloth. Clocking in at four metric tons and 20 feet in length, the aptly (and heavy-metal like) named mega-creature was eclipsed in sheer size by only mammoths and several saber-toothed tigers stacked together. Its long claws were most likely used to dig tunnels and not climb trees that would have automatically snapped under its weight. While scientists believe they lived in groups some may have lived alone in caves, proving the introvert dates back far longer than we could have imagined.
Zoos are not great at setting up sloth dates
Unlike other animals where gender can be determined by plumage color, markings, horns or your dog doing that lipstick thing, sloths posses no obvious secondary-sex characteristics that help one determine if its a boy or girl. This has led to more than a few zoos purchasing the wrong sloth for procreation but perhaps right for everything else.
Sloths aren’t as lazy as you think
Scientists once believed that sloths slept upwards of 18 to 20 hours a day, perhaps mistaking “lost in thought” for “sound asleep and not responding to our yelling.” But now it is believed sloths sleep only upwards of ten hours a day, which makes both cats and many humans look like absolute, slacks bums by comparison.
The female sloth’s mating call sounds like an adorable radio frequency gone haywire