Given eve’s mascot is a sloth, it’d be rude not to celebrate International Sloth Day! And so, in homage to our loveable mascot, we’ve rounded up 10 interesting and enlightening facts about sloths you may not already know.
From what they eat to how big they are and what noise they make – there’s a lot to learn about sloths. Read on to find out all about this intriguing and incredibly cute animal, it’s habitat and more.
what is a sloth?
Sloths are slow-moving mammals. They are generally native to the tropical forests of Central and South America (1). Being known for their slow movements, Sloths tend to spend the majority of their lives hanging upside down in the trees (2). This is because the trees help to provide a natural source of protection from ground-dwelling predators. More about that later.
what do sloths eat?
Sloths are folivores! This means that they mostly eat leaves (3). Three-toed sloth eats tend to live solely off leaves with the occasional seed pod (such as Cacao pods) thrown into the mix. It is likely that insects and insect larvae is also consumed during a sloth’s leaf grazing.
Two-fingered sloths have a more varied diet that can include both seed pods and fruit. Being less fussy means that two-fingered sloths will also eat bird eggs and rodents like rats and mice – if they can get their hands on them that is (4)!
what do sloths look like?
Sloths have long arms and wiry fur (5). This makes them look at bit like they belong to the monkey family. However, this in not the case! Sloths are actually part of the superorder Xenarthra and the order Pilosa (6). This means that the sloth family tree also includes anteaters and armadillos.
There are two main species of sloth – the two-toed sloths and the three-toed sloths. As suggested by the names, they can easily be identified by whether they have two or three claws (7).
Both species of sloth are quite similar looking. Both feature rounded heads, sad-looking eyes, small ears, and short, almost stumpy tails.
There is a size difference between two- and three-toed sloths. Two-toed sloths tend to be slightly larger than three-toed ones. And two-toed sloths generally spend more time hanging upside-down than three-toed sloths, who seem to enjoy sitting upright in the fork of tree branches (8).
The facial colouring of three-toed sloths gives them that “always smiling” appearance we know and love. And another interesting fact about the three-toed sloth is that they have two extra neck vertebrae. These enable them to turn their heads almost all the way around – but not quite (9)!
how long can a sloth hold its breath?
This interesting fact about sloths may surprise you – it certainly surprised us anyway. Experts suggest that sloths can hold their bread for up to 40 minutes (10)! Colour us impressed!
This ability to hold their breath for long periods of time helps to protect them against predators.
what eats sloths?
So, what are the different predators that would rather like to chow down on a sloth? Well in short, there are quite a few! Sloths are hunted from the skies and from land-based predators.
Sloth predators include:
- Harpy eagles. Harpy eagles are considered one of the most powerful and largest raptors in the world. They mainly prey on tree-dwelling mammals such as monkeys, opossums, and sloths (11).
- Ocelots. Ocelots are medium-sized spotted wild cats. They mainly eat small rodents. However, eat birds, snakes, iguanas, and even sloths have been known to become an occasional snack (12).
- Jaguars. Jaguars are large spotted wild cats that will pretty much each anything and everything, including sloths.
- Margays. Margays are another medium-sized spotted wild cat. They tend to eat a variety of prey including birds, reptiles, and both land and climbing, mammals, which includes sloths (13).
There are other predators that the sloth has had to learn to steer clear of too. But these are the main culprits.
how big is a sloth?
Sloths tend to grow no bigger than around 2.5 feet in length (from head to tail). A sloths weight will usually be within the range of 9-17 pounds and so they’re comparable in size to the size of a small dog (14).
Historically, sloths were much larger. The megatherium, a genus of ground sloths that were once native to South America, is long since extinct now. But these giant sloths were up to 10 times the size of the sloths we know and love today. Stood on its back legs, the Megatherium Americanum would have been an intimidating 3.5 metres in height!
what noise does a sloth make?
Sloths make a number of noises and sounds. As you’d expect, each one is to communicate something slightly different. Here are some of the noises sloths make:
- Squeaking. High-pitched squeaks are used by baby sloths to help them maintain contact with their mother (15).
- Hissing. Sloths will sometimes hiss when they are feeling threatened. By making this hissing sound, sloths can help deter predators and warn sloths of imminent or approaching danger (16).
- Purring. Sloths will also sometimes make a low, purring noise. This is usually observed when sloths are happy in their surroundings and so, experts believe that this sound is used to express happiness (17).
how fast is a sloth?
Sloths are known to move very slowly. They have the ability to move at a rate of 4.5 metres per minute when under immediate threat. Otherwise, they tend to move through the trees at a top speed of approximately 4 metres per minute (18).
On land, sloths become even slower. The three-toed sloth gets the award for the slowest sloth species when on land with a speed range of just 1.8–2.4 m per minute (19).
But, here’s something else we bet you didn’t know – Sloths are excellent swimmers. And in water, they can move much faster than they can on land or in the trees! Sloths can swim at a speed of up to 13.4 m per minute (20).
what is a sloth habitat?
Sloths are native to the tropical rain forests of Central and South America. They spend most of their time up in the canopy of trees. Rainforests are found in the tropical climate region, and they tend to be hot and wet all year round. This leads to a humid climate. The tree canopy provides shade from the hot sun; shelter from the quite often torrential downpours; and plenty of opportunity to stay hidden away from prowling predators (21).
how does a sloth adapt to the rainforest?
Sloths are really sedentary creatures. And that stillness enables algae grow on their long fur which features groves in each strand. Given that algae are green in colour, it helps to camouflage sloths (22). By blending into the rainforest canopy, sloths are able to hide in plain sight – pretty neat right?!
There are many other ways sloths have adapted to life in the rainforest over time. But we felt this was the most interesting adaptation to report.
why a sloth is the perfect mascot for eve sleep
Here at eve HQ, we admire the sloth. Sloths are docile, gentle, and generally calm creatures (23). Yes, a sloth will defend itself if it feels threatened but otherwise, sloths wouldn’t harm a fly. Plus, they tend to rack up 15 hours of sleep each day (24) which is more than okay in our books.
If you fancy embracing your inner sloth in celebration of International Sloth Day, why not take a peek at our latest mattress collection. We’re sure you’ll find something that’s as appealing to you as the rainforest tree canopy is to our furry sloth friends.