Weird animals: Sloth




The sloth, one of the weird animals, belongs to the edentate family. This family also includes anteaters, armadillos, and echidnas. Most edentates are either threatened or endangered species. There are a number of unusual facts about the sloth. All sloths have three toes, but “two-toed” sloths only have 2 claws. Sloths often hunt in packs. They can actually move quickly and will slash with their large claws – the slow-moving behavior is to avoid predators like hawks. They actually hang most of their lives. Sloths typically have over 600 species of bacteria, plants and animals living on them at any given time, and will often feed on themselves when they are hungry. (Algae is the main snack.) Famously, these unusual creatures can rotate their heads 270 degrees. Lore has it that sloths adore beer and are able to “hold their liquor” amazingly well.
Sloths are medium-sized mammals that live in Central and South America belonging to the families Megalonychidae and Bradypodidae, part of the order Pilosa. Most scientists call these two families the Folivora suborder, while some call it Phyllophaga.
Sloths are omnivores. They may eat insects, small lizards and carrion, but their diet consists mostly of buds, tender shoots, and leaves.
Sloths have made extraordinary adaptations to an arboreal browsing lifestyle. Leaves, their main food source, provide very little energy or nutrition and do not digest easily: sloths have very large, specialized, slow-acting stomachs with multiple compartments in which symbiotic bacteria break down the tough leaves.
As much as two-thirds of a well-fed sloth’s body-weight consists of the contents of its stomach, and the digestive process can take as long as a month or more to complete. Even so, leaves provide little energy, and sloths deal with this by a range of economy measures: they have very low metabolic rates (less than half of that expected for a creature of their size), and maintain low body temperatures when active (30 to 34 degrees Celsius or 86 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit), and still lower temperatures when resting. Sloths mainly live in Cecropia trees.