The sloth is a medium sized mammal that is native to central and South America. Sloths are arboreal creatures that spend majority of their time living in the trees. They have long arms and long sharp claws that allow them to live successful in their habitat. They have a short snout, tiny ears and a long, flat head. There are six species of sloth with two distinct families, two toed and three toed sloths. Sloths are commonly brown, white, gray and black in color so that they camouflage with their environment. Sloths are well known for their lack of activity and slow movement. Have you ever wondered why these animals are so slow? Read on to find out.
Why do sloths move so slow?
The main reason that the sloth is so slow is due to its diet. A large majority of their diet consists of leaves, buds and shoots. These foods do not provide the sloth with large amounts of energy, so they move very slowly to conserve the energy they do have. Plant matter such as leaves, shoots and buds are also slowly digested, which uses up more of the sloth’s energy.
Another reason that sloths move very slowly is due to the fact that they have approximately a quarter of the muscle tissue that other mammals of their size have. On average the three toed sloth can move as quickly as 4 m or 13 feet per minute when in the trees. On the ground the sloth can only move at the speed of approximately 2 m or 6.5 feet per minute. Moving slowly is also an advantage to the sloth as it enables it to remain camouflaged from their predators. While a sloth can’t run quickly from its predators in most cases it remains still enough that it is never spotted in the first place!