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Image zoom. Courtesy Stone Zoo. It might have something to do with sex, and marking a tree for a potential mate to find.
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When they do poop, their turds tend to be massive. If you put the contents of a sloth's bowel movement on a scale, they might weigh up to one-third of the animal's body weight. This is percent larger than what scientists would expect to see in an animal of the sloth's size. Oddly enough, though, sloths don't fart. So there's that. Sloths have a symbiotic relationship with algae. Studies have shown that algae is sometimes passed down from a mother sloth to her baby, and the transfer is mutually beneficial for both animal and plant.
The sloth's long fur creates a cozy home for the algae—which readily absorbs the water they need to thrive—and the sloths get a coat of green-tinted fur that doubles as camouflage. Sloths also eat the algae, which provides a much-needed source of nutrients.
Why are sloths slow? And six other sloth facts
Females get the courting process started by letting out a loud, high-pitched scream to let male sloths know she's ready to mate. Researchers are unsure on the particulars of sloth courting or copulation, or even if males will fight for the right mate with the screeching female or if any fights are territorial instead. Whatever the details, the ensuing gestation period is between five and six months, and then the female sloth will birth one baby sloth, which is—uninterestingly—just called a baby sloth.
This special talent puts three-toed sloths in the same category as many owls.
In both species, this Exorcist -esque ability can be attributed to their bone structure. Sloths have extra vertebrae at the base of their necks that let them look in all directions with ease. Although sloths aren't great at defending themselves, they can at least see when danger is approaching. On average, sloths live to be about 20 years old, but some species can live longer in captivity. The world's oldest sloth —a female of the Hoffman's two-toed variety named Miss C—died last year at the ripe old age of She was a lifetime resident of Australia's Adelaide Zoo.
BY Emily Petsko. Animals Lists nature. Subscribe to our Newsletter! As a result, sloths are completely helpless on the ground unless there is something to grasp.
Why are sloths slow? And six other sloth facts | Stories | WWF
Even then, they are able only to drag themselves along with their claws. They are surprisingly good swimmers. Generally nocturnal, sloths are solitary and are aggressive toward others of the same sex. Sloths have large multichambered stomachs and an ability to tolerate strong chemicals from the foliage they eat. The leafy food is digested slowly; a fermenting meal may take up to a week to process. Sloths descend to the ground at approximately six-day intervals to urinate and defecate see Sidebar: A moving habitat.
Physiologically, sloths are heterothermic—that is, they have imperfect control over their body temperature. At this temperature the animals become torpid.
Although heterothermicity makes sloths very sensitive to temperature change, they have thick skin and are able to withstand severe injuries. All sloths were formerly classified in the same family Bradypodidae , but two-toed sloths have been found to be so different from three-toed sloths that they are now classified in a separate family Megalonychidae. The three-toed sloth family Bradypodidae is also called the ai in Latin America because of the high-pitched cry it produces when agitated.
All four species belong to the same genus, Bradypus , and the coloration of their short facial hair bestows them with a perpetually smiling expression. The brown-throated three-toed sloth B. The teeth are simple pegs, and the upper front pair are smaller than the others; incisor and true canine teeth are lacking.
Adults weigh only about 4 kg 8.
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