How long is a sloth

Take it easy: Fascination with the sloth

Sloths have been around for a very long time. The first unequivocal fossil finds come from an geological age about 30 million years ago, the Oligocene. Even 20,000 years ago - the age of the film "Ice Age" - sloths lived on earth. Underneath Giant sloths as the Megatherium americanum: They became as big as elephants.

Are Sloths Lazy?

Regarding the sloths of today: Indeed, sloths are very veryslowly. Your movements appear as if in slow motion. When they shimmy through the trees they are at speeds of eight to ten meters per minute on the move - even slower on the ground. Most of the time, sloths don't move at all. Because they sleep up to three quarters of the day. But her name is also in English sloth Translated, indolence or laziness means: What may seem lazy in our hectic world is actually one Measure to save energy and a good camouflage strategy.

The food suits the lifestyle - or vice versa

Sloths live in the canopy of tropical rainforests from Central America to southern Braziland shimmy through the branches using their hooked claws. In doing so, their food conveniently dangles directly into their mouths: Sloths mainly eat leaves, sometimes also flowers and fruits or even eggs and small animals depending on the species. The leaves grow around them in sufficient quantity so that sloths hardly have to leave the trees. However, leaves are not particularly nutritious. An animal that feeds almost exclusively on it has to be careful with its energy.

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Only once a week to the toilet

Sloths have one of the slowest metabolism of all mammals. It takes them up to a week to digest their fibrous food. And sloths only need to defecate about once a week. This in turn protects against enemies. Most sloths leave the tree to defecate and urinate. They do their "business" on the ground. Here, however, they are even slower, make difficult progress and would take around half an hour for 100 meters. This makes them easy prey for predators like the jaguar. In the tree, the sloth can defend itself better with its claws and canine teeth - and due to its slow movement and camouflage color, it is usually not discovered at all anyway.

Sloths: Adapted to hanging out

The long, curved claws of their front paws hold sloths in the tree and allow them to pull branches and leaves towards them. The number of these claws and fingers on the front paws distinguishes them two genera of sloths, two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths. All sloths have three toes on their hind paws.

Three-toed sloths have one or two more cervical vertebrae than most other mammals. This allows you to turn your head 270 degrees back and forth as well as 330 degrees from left to right in order to comfortably pluck leaves behind you. Theinternal organs like the stomach and liver are shifted and connected to the ribs so as not to press on the lungs when hanging out. In contrast to other mammals, the vertex of the long fur in sloths also runs along the belly. This allows the rainwater to drain off better. Grow in the thick fur itself Green algaethat provide good camouflage and nutritional supplements for sloths. As perfectly as sloths are adapted to their life in the tree and as much as they avoid the ground as a defenseless zone, they are also in the water amazingly good swimmers.

More stomach than muscle mass

Sloths require and have less muscle mass than other mammals. On the other hand, your filled stomach makes up almost a third of your body weight. After all, he has to take in a lot of the low-energy food. In total, an adult sloth weighs three to eleven kilograms, depending on the species, is between 50 and 90 centimeters tall and in the wild can be up to 15 years or even older. By the way, the closest relatives of the sloth are anteaters and armadillos. Not exactly fast either, but not as slow as the sloths.

Baby Sloths: Doubtful Selfie Hit

A female sloth usually gives birth to a single cub once a year. Hanging in the tree, of course. The baby sloth clings to the mother on the belly side until it is independent. In numerous YouTube videos, the cute young animals just like adult sloths provide sometimes dubious entertainment. Especially when it is not clear whether the animals were caught illegally. The sloths don't notice their discomfort so easily.

Selfies with sloths are also circulating online in abundance and here, too, there is often illegal trade behind them: Wild-caught animals, especially young animals, are sold as pets or tourist magnets. As tempting as a cute sloth selfie may seem, such offers should be rejected as a matter of urgency. Sloths are much better off hanging on a tree in an intact forest than on a person's neck or arm.

Tree dwellers need the forest

Even if most of the species of sloth are not threatened with extinction to this day: The immense clearing of the tropical rainforests devour their habitat. Populations are isolated in individual forest sections, sloths are run over on newly built roads. Two species of the three-toed sloth are considered endangered: the ring-necked sloth, native to Brazil, and the pygmy sloth, which only occurs on a small island off Panama. The sloth cannot run away as quickly as the forest is disappearing.

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