10 Fun Sloth Facts

A three-toed tree sloth hangs from the trunk of a tree in the jungle on the bank of the Panama Canal

The sloth is not exactly the most exciting animal out there. Named for the laziest of the seven sins, the sloth is popularly known as a sluggish creature that lounges around all day, and is a few limbs away from being a second cousin to the common snail. At the very least, the sloth is not the animal you’re looking for when you head out on an Roho Ya Chui African safari tour. You want to see lions and gazelles and lions eating gazelles and maybe even a gazelle eating a lion. Anything but a boring sloth.

That’s where you’re wrong. The sloth is not nearly as dull as its reputation suggests. In fact, it can be outright adorable if you look at it the right way. The following ten facts about the African sloth should hopefully go a long way in convincing you that there’s more to these seemingly lazy little creatures than meets the eye.

  1. Most varieties of sloths are actually nocturnal, so when you catch them lounging around during the day, it’s most likely because they were up all night.
  1. While we’re on the topic, sloths only average a little under ten hours of sleep a day. Sure, that’s still a lot more than the average human being, but sloths don’t have bills to pay or a roof to keep over their heads.
  1. In fact, sloths are arboreal animals, meaning they live most of their lives in trees. Helped along by their four-inch claws, sloths live off the leaves of their host tree, which explains why they have very little energy. Their diet isn’t exactly nutritious.
  1. Because of this unhealthy diet, it’s perhaps of little surprise that sloths only urinate and defecate about once a week. It’s almost always in the exact same spot too, so even if they’re in poor shape, at least they’re civilized.
  1. That doesn’t make them clean, however. Algae will often grow directly in the fur of a sloth, turning their coats green.
  1. This green fur, while a little icky, actually benefits the sloth a great deal. Their natural predators are jaguars, eagles and very large snakes, so having that little extra bit of camouflage isn’t so bad after all.
  1. Sloths can also turn their head a full 360 degrees, giving them even more protection against their much larger, much faster foes.
  1. If worse comes to worst, the sloth could also just hop in some water. Even though they’re slow and sluggish on land, sloths surprisingly make for very good swimmers.
  1. A sloth can live up to forty years old. The kicker is that their claws are so strong that if they die, you might never know it. They can stay stuck to a branch long after their physical death.
  1. Finally, sloths are pretty solitary animals. They tend to live on their own and only gather together during mating season. When pregnant, a female sloth will carry for about seven to ten months before giving birth to a single baby.

With any luck, these facts have started to open your eyes to the surprisingly colorful life of the common sloth—so when you’re on your next African safari tour, don’t forget to look out for these fascinating creatures. At least remember to grab a quick picture. They make great still models, after all.

Schedule your next Roho Ya Chui African safari tour today and get ready to see sloths and a whole lot more!

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Image: The Guardian

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