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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Sloth Facts You'll Never Forget

Sloth facts are guaranteed to not make you bored and sleepy!

If there is any animal that epitomizes lethargy, it has to be the sloth! With a name that literally translates to laziness, sloths are slow-moving animals that form a major part of the wildlife in the tropical forests of Central and South America. These slow and sluggish animals are most commonly seen hanging upside down from trees and are considered to be close relatives of the anteater.

While the slowness of these animals may make them appear to be more vulnerable to predators, the actual scenario is quite different. Since these slow and lazy creatures spend much of their lives snoozing in tree canopies, they practically remain hidden from predators. Besides, sloth fur is so well-camouflaged against the backdrop of trees that they are hardly distinguishable from their surroundings. Currently, there are two extant genera of sloths, the Choloepus (the two-toed sloths) and the Bradypus (the three-toed sloths) with six different species.

There is a lot more to learn about these furry animals from the tropical forests of Central and South America. Read on for more sloth facts for kids.

If you find sloths interesting, you will also enjoy reading facts about two-toed sloth and three-throated sloth.

Sloth Interesting Facts

What type of animal are sloths?

Sloths are neither marsupials nor primates but are tree-dwelling mammals.

What class of animal do sloths belong to?

Both two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths are mammals of class Mammalia.

How many sloths are there in the world?

While there are six different species of sloths, their exact numbers are not known. However, according to the IUCN Red List, two species of three-toed sloths have a decreasing population trend.

Where do sloths live?

Sloths are tree-dwelling creatures that primarily live in tropical rainforests which may include cloud forests and mangroves.

What is a sloth's habitat?

The wild habitat of sloths is limited to tropical moist forests of South and Central America and they are a highlight of the diverse wildlife found there. Regardless of whether they are two-toed or three-toed, these creatures are made for a life in the trees thanks to their feet. In fact, they even mate and give birth to their young while hanging from trees.

Living up to their names, sloths sleep in trees for about 15 to 20 hours, and their long claws are perfectly suited to keep a firm grip on tree branches. They hardly ever come down and when they do, it is either to defecate, find more food, establish a new territory, or find a new mate.

Who do sloths live with?

Sloths are primarily solitary animals and hardly ever interact with one another, except during the mating season. Female sloths get together sometimes, while males may not.

How long do sloths live?

Typically, sloths have an average lifespan of around 20 years in the wild. These animals may live up to 30 or more years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

The mating habits of sloths varies with the species. While some mate seasonally, others may breed at any time of the year. Sloths mate while they are hanging from trees. A two-toed sloth has a gestation period of 12 months, and it is six months for three-toed sloths. After this period, a female sloth gives birth to one offspring.

A newborn sloth stays with its mother for about six months, clinging to her belly as she moves from tree to tree. After this bonding period, the baby sloth leaves its parents but adopts a part of its female parent's range.

What is their conservation status?

Out of the six wild species of sloths, four are of Least Concern, one is Critically Endangered, and one is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.

Sloth Fun Facts

What do sloths look like?

The body of the sloth is covered with a layer of fur which is mostly brownish in color. They have large, beady eyes with dark patches around them. Their limbs are long, and their feet have prominent claws that help them to cling to tree branches with a grip so strong that they do not fall down, even when shot from the ground. The head of a sloth is small and round with tiny ears. Three-toed sloths even have a stubby tail. A sloth's body may appear greenish because their fur hosts symbiotic algae that,  besides camouflaging a sloth in the forest environment, also supplies essential nutrients.

Sloths sleep for the most part of the day.

How cute are they?

Sloths appear quite cute and adorable with their small head and tiny ears. The shape of their mouth is strange, and it makes them look like they always have a smile on their face.

How do they communicate?

Even though sloths have poor eyesight, their vocal communication abilities are pretty well-developed. Mothers communicate with their young via vocal sounds, and so do mating partners. Females emit a shrill mating scream to let their mates know of their readiness. The high-pitched call of sloths sounds like an 'ahh-eeee'.

How big are sloths?

Sloths range in size between 24-31 in (60-80 cm). Three-toed sloths are slightly smaller than the two-tailed type and have a tail length of 2-2.4 in (5-6 cm).

How fast can sloths run?

Given how lazy the animals are, sloths move only when it is absolutely necessary. They are capable of moving at speeds of 13-15 ft per minute (4-4.5 m per minute) if there are any immediate threats from potential wild predators. When on the ground, sloths can reach a maximum speed of 9.8 ft per minute (3 m per minute).

How much do sloths weigh?

Sloths weigh between 7.9-17 lb (3.6-7.7 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and female sloths do not have any distinct names.

What would you call a baby sloth?

A baby sloth is called a 'cub'.

What do they eat?

Two-toed sloths eat leaves, fruits, carrion, insects, and small lizards. Being entirely herbivorous, three-toed sloths eat only leaves from selected trees such as cecropias.

Are they dangerous?

Even though sloths are wild animals, their lazy and slow nature makes them absolutely harmless. A sloth will not pose any danger to you, let alone kill you.

Would they make a good pet?

Sloths do not make particularly good pets due to their specialized diet and a need for a constantly humid and warm environment with abundant hammocks or branches where they can sleep, eat, and just hang out.

Did you know...

Sloths sleep either perched in a tree fork or dangling from a branch with all four feet bundled together and their head buried in their chest.

Sloths are excellent swimmers and can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes underwater.

Sloths exhibit characteristics of both cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals, and their body temperature may vary depending on the environment. When active, they usually maintain a low body temperature of around 86-93 F (30-34 C) which becomes lower during periods of rest.

Sloths come down to the ground to defecate and that's when they are most vulnerable to predators. Since their hind legs are not strong enough for a quick escape, these slow animals face a life or death situation and may even get killed.

The presence of algae on a sloth's fur makes it a host to flies, mosquitoes, moths, sandflies, ticks, mice, and lice.

What are the different types of sloths?

There are two types of sloths, a three-toed sloth and a two-toed sloth. While both types have three claws on their rear limbs, two-toed sloths have two claws on each of their forelimbs. Both belong to separate genera and include six species in all. Both types are inhabitants of the South and Central American tropical forests. The most common among them are brown-throated sloths (Bradypus variegatus).

Why do sloths move slowly?

The slowness of these animals can be attributed to one significant reason and that is survival. The diet of sloths primarily consists of leaves which is extremely low in calories. They have to have a very low metabolic rate (very slow digestion of food) in order to survive on this low-calorie diet. As a result, they are slow and sluggish and only show deliberate movements.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including giant anteater, or sloth bear.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our sloth coloring pages.  

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