Kristina has taught a variety of elementary classes and has a master's degree in elementary education.
What is a Sloth?
Have you ever been so tired you slept for 20 hours, or hung upside-down in a tree? This is what the life of a sloth is like every day.
Sloths are tropical mammals, or warm-blooded animals that live in tropical (hot and moist all year) regions. There are two types of sloths: the two-toed or three-toed. Both actually have three toes on their back feet, but the two-toed sloth has only two fingers and claws on its front feet. Otherwise, these sloths are very similar.
Let's explore this lazy mammal.
Made for Trees
Sloths love trees so much that they leave them only once a week, to use the bathroom, and they sleep curled up or hanging upside-down.
With long brown fur, long curved toe claws, and even longer arms, they look kind of like monkeys. It's these long limbs and claws that help sloths live in trees - their long toe claws hook onto branches, and their long arms can wrap around tree trunks for climbing or resting. Of course, if they have to fight, sloths use these claws to protect themselves, too.
When you're cold, you might jump around to stay warm, but sloths are too weak. Their fur acts like a thick winter coat. And because sloths move so slowly in the moist tropical air, algae, a green plant, often grows on their fur. This helps them camouflage, or blend into their surroundings, to remain hidden from enemies.
Life in the Slow Lane
Who would win in a race, a tortoise or a sloth? For once, the tortoise would win. Sloths move less than 10 feet a minute while up in the trees, and they're even slower on the ground. That makes them the slowest land mammal.
A sloth can sleep up to 20 hours a day, but usually sleeps about nine, and it can take them over an hour to eat a meal!
Since most animals could outrun sloths, it's a good thing they're herbivores, meaning they enjoy plants, leaves, and fruits. It's unusual, but some two-toed sloths eat small birds, reptiles, or insects.
Like everything else, sloths digest food slowly - over a month to digest a meal. Because the plants they eat are hard to digest, their stomachs have four separate sections to break down food. Plant food doesn't provide much nutrition either. This could be one of the reasons sloths are so slow.
Keeping it Warm
Sloths are found in the tropical jungles of Central and South America. The consistently warm weather helps the slow creatures stay alive as they're too weak to move around for warmth.
Since sloths spend most of their time sleeping in trees, the jungles and forests provide lots of trees for sloths to find food and shelter (and hide from enemies).
Sloth Life Cycle
Mother sloths generally have only one baby at a time. A baby sloth clings to its mom for protection for the first weeks of its life. The babies stay near mom for up to four years. After these years, a sloth will venture out on its own.
Sloths don't hang out together, and live alone most of the time.
Sloths are tropical mammals that live in Central and South America. They are the world's slowest land mammal. A sloth is so slow algae will grow on its fur. This helps them camouflage with their surroundings. Most sloths are herbivores and have four-part stomachs to digest the tough plants they eat. Sloths spend most of their lives sleeping and eating in trees by themselves.
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