At home in the rainforests of Central and South America, sloths are infamously slow. Why? Sloths have a sluggish metabolism, which means they require very little food –– mostly leaves and twigs –– foods that provide them with minimal energy and nutrition. One meal can take up to a month to digest.
Sloths move at an extremely unhurried pace. On a typical day, sloths travel only about 40 yards, using vines to move from tree to tree. They spend much of their lives in the forest canopies –– the treetops –– napping and staying out of the sight of predators. With weak hind legs and long and sharp claws that get in the way on land, sloths avoid the forest floor.
The sloth is a curious creature. They’re somewhat clumsy on land, but in the water they’re surprisingly agile. And while they dwell up above, they spend the majority of their lives upside down. Clinging like a hammock, they eat, sleep, and live suspended from the trees –– which makes the deforestation of their habitats especially concerning, and has quickly landed many sloth species on the endangered list.
And though they may resemble monkeys, they are in fact related to armadillos and anteaters. Their long fur is covered in a green-colored algae which provides a camouflage to help them avoid predators and has left them with a permanent case of bed head. But despite all this –– the algae, the nerdy hairdo, the terrifying claws, and the happy-sad face –– we’re smitten and find the sweet, sluggish sloth unexpectedly charming.