The three-fingered sloth: the facts you didn’t know about this impressive mammal
What’s with the fur? Why do sloths sleep so much? This month, the three-fingered sloth is the animal of the month at Adopt Rainforest. And what’s more fun than hearing from one of the founders of Adopt Rainforest some fun facts that you won’t find in a standard biology book. Maarten van der Beek is one of the biologists at Adopt Rainforest and lives on the Work With Nature reserve in Costa Rica.
How does the sloth get its name?
You’ve probably read in the animal passport that the three-fingered sloth needs 16 hours of sleep a day. Yet they are most active during the day. How about that? The sloth eats leaves from many different trees that are difficult to digest. And yes then you have to rest a lot and sit still for hours to digest the substances found in the leaves, such as cellulose and hard organic substances. Hello lazy lifestyle!
They prefer the young leaves of different trees. The young leaves have few toxins and are more digestible. Are you looking for a sloth in the jungle? Then look for the tree Cecropia Segenis, the sloth’s favorite tree.
No lack of space
Did you know that a sloth only needs a small piece of land to live? They eat and lounge in about 10 to 15 trees that are within a few acres. There are some favorite trees among them where they sit in one tree one day and in another tree the next day. A real tree hugger you might say. Also very smart of them to alternate the trees because that way they wait until fresh leaves have grown on the trees.
The poop story
The sloth has the slowest metabolism of all mammals. A sloth defecates about once a week and it prefers to do so on the ground. They look for their favorite tree and there they climb down from the tree. Why they defecate near their favorite tree is a mystery to scientists! It could be that the sloth uses the poop to provide their favorite tree with new version leaves faster or they use the poop to mark their favorite tree for other sloths. Way to go, this is my favorite spot!
The coat as an ecosystem
Just like mosses live in critters, sloths get algae on their fur. Therefore, you can recognize the sloth by a greenish chamois around their fur. There is also one animal that does not leave sloths alone, and that is a special kind of moth that can only live in a sloth’s fur. When a sloth has young, they sometimes fly to another sloth, but otherwise the moth lives its entire life on the same sloth.
A cool sound during mating season
When it is mating season for the sloths, they make a very distinct sound. It is a bit similar to a human or owl screech. The males try to impress the females with this cool sound. And you know what else is handy? The biologists in our reserve immediately hear how many sloths there are in the area and enjoy the funny sound of the sloths.
Change can do no harm
The sloth is a tolerant species, that is, they can stand disturbance well. In the area they live in, they only need a few trees to survive. Is nature being affected? The sloth will then look for a place with many fast-growing trees, where it can provide itself with food and a place to live.
Protect the Sloth
Worldwide, the rainforest is threatened by humans, including Costa Rica and for the three-fingered sloth. However, do you want this beautiful animal to preserve its habitat? Then it is possible to adopt rainforest. How can this be done? Very easily! For only €2.50 per square meter you protect a piece of nature. Want to read more about protecting the rainforest? Then click here!
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