Why are sloths so slow?

+19 votes
asked Aug 17, 2015 in Pets & Animals by Joan (800 points)

Sloths are such weird animals. Hanging from tree trunks, moving so slowly that moss grew on their back. Doesn’t having slow movement only make them an easy target from predators? I mean if I’m an eagle or a leopard and saw these literal hanging free meal, I would never go hungry ever again. Why are sloths so slow? What advantage to them to be slow with practically no defense other than hanging from trees? It just doesn’t make sense, tortoise have thick shells to protect them, what do sloths have to protect themselves?

But I love sloth though they are so slow. I find this baby sloth so cute,kkk

2 Answers

+19 votes
answered Aug 27, 2015 by Janelle (950 points)
Slowness of the sloth can be accounted to their extremely low metabolism. They take forever to get the energy from the food they eat, although this means they can survive with the relatively low amount of food and water. Couple with the fact that the food they ate are leaves, which do not digest easily and contain low nutrition, you have a formula for a really unenergetic animal. The body temperature of the mammals is low in comparison to other more active animals as a result as well. Being colder means burning less energy in order to keep themselves cooler. By eating less and having a convenient reach to their main food source, they could spend less energy on foraging for more nutritious food, and focus on doing nothing much. They are just built to have a lazy lifestyle.
0 votes
answered Aug 19, 2015 by Christa (620 points)
edited Sep 11, 2015 by Kris

So why are sloths so slow? Sloths being slow is their main defense mechanism. Their claws are adapted to form a permanent hook to hang themselves to the tree branches, so they could literally live their whole life up on the tree tops. Their fur encourages bacteria growth which in turn promotes the growth of moss. So often sloths have green patches on their fur. This serves two purposes, one as an additional camouflage tools and second as an extra source of emergency nutrients, by licking them. This moss growth is only possible due to their lack of movements. Naturally, they have excellent camouflage and attract no attention at all. They are defenseless essentially, but that doesn’t pose a threat. The unlucky few are usually picked off by eagles due to terrible positioning or by jaguars when the sloths are occasionally on the forest floor to defecate and urinate, where are at their most vulnerable (because they are just polite that way). So yeah, sloths are moving slowly since it creates a perfect camouflage when they are hanging from the trees.

And here I have a happy sloth, isn't it lovely ;)

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