Throughout all my expectations of my journey through Costa Rica I never thought I was going to become totally fascinated and obsessed with a large creature I could barely see, who moved slower than a snail, is almost blind and deaf but looks like it is perpetually stoned, But it happened. The culprit? The three toed sloth.
The sloth is not a small mammal – an adult can be close to three feet long and it has long limbs with 4 inch long claws that it uses to climb up into the tree canopies, where it lives most of its life hanging upside down. It’s thick multi-tonal fur blends in so well with the tree foliage that on rainy days such as we had the sloths literally melted into the background. Since my zoom lens does not come with wipers the raindrops added to the difficulty of getting a clean shot. At first all I could manage was a butt shot:
Then a few “dude” shots:
During moments when the rain subsided I was able to hone in a bit:
Many tries later I did manage a couple of face and claw shots:
I am entranced. Here are some amazing sloth facts.
- There are two types of sloth the two-toed sloth and the three-toed sloth
- Sloths are relatives to anteaters and armadillos.
- Sloths mainly eat tree buds, new shoots, fruit and leaves, of the Cecropia tree. Some two-toed sloths also eat insects and small birds.
- Sloths have a four-part stomach that very slowly digests the tough leaves they eat – they obtain few nutrients from this diet
- A sloth must conserve energy due to its poor diet, making it one of the slowest moving animals in the world.
- Sloths’ fur is a micro-habitat as it provides a home for moths, cockroaches, fungi, and algae. Green colored algae provides a camouflage so sloths can avoid predators.
- Sloths can extend their tongues 10 to 12 inches out of their mouths.
- The sloth has very long, sharp, strong claws that they use to hold on to tree branches. The claws are also their only natural defense against predators.
- Their muscles are very weak and they cannot walk – when on the ground they must drag themselves by using their claws
- Sloths usually only leave their tree habitat to go poop – once a week on the ground.
- In the wild, sloths live on average 10 -16 years
- They have two extra neck vertebrae that allow them to rotate their heads 270 degrees to help them look for predators
- Three-toed sloths have facial coloring that makes them look like they’re always smiling.
I can think of no better video to share than this one of David Attenborough saying “boo!” to a sloth:
The Dude abides.