Sloths are some of the slowest animals in the world - here's why
REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate
Sloths are notoriously slow. Living in rainforests in Central and South America, sloths spend most of their time hanging upside down in the trees, rarely coming down to the ground.
There are two main families of sloths, two-toed sloths, and three-toed sloths, and they all share something in common: They've been around for millions of years - 64 million, to be exact.
For comparison, modern humans have only been around for about 200,000 years.
Sloths slowness, as it turns out, is the key to their survival. Far from being lazy, sloths are actually really efficient at conserving energy, and it all has to do with their diet.
There are four main types of three-toed sloths (pictured below) living everywhere from Mexico to coastal Brazil. They're some of the slowest mammals in the world
Sloths are slow because of their diet. They mostly eat leaves, twigs, and flowers they can easily reach from where they are hanging.
But sloths have a secret up their sleeve: Their slow metabolic rate means they can survive off of very little food, which is especially useful during droughts.
Rarely leaving the trees means sloths are protected from predators, like jaguars and eagles, which can pick younger or weaker sloths off of the forest floor.
Sloths are extremely sleepy, snoozing for over 15 hours a day.
Sloths are well adapted to their rainforest habitat. But, like many forest-dwelling critters, they are threatened by habitat destruction and deforestation.
Sloth moms only give birth about once every six months. The babies cling to their mom for around six months, learning the ropes of what it takes to survive in the jungle
They are pretty unique creatures.
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