Depending on the weather, a sloth's temperature can range from 74 - 92 degrees F. If a sloth's body temperature drops too low, the bacteria in its gut that helps it digest food can stop working, and the sloth can starve to death even with a full stomach.
The truth about sloths
As with many rainforest animals, both two-toed and three-toed sloths are threatened by destruction of their habitat. One and a half acres of rainforest is lost every second to logging and burning. The fragmentation of rainforest habitat means sloths must come down to the ground in order to drag themselves from tree to tree in order to get enough to eat. This leaves them vulnerable to predation by jaguars, ocelots, and domestic dogs.
In addition, when they have to cross roads built through the rainforest, sloths often are struck by passing cars and trucks. The next time you recycle an aluminum can, or enjoy sustainably harvested tropical nuts, chocolate, and coffee, you can be happy knowing that you're helping sloths like Wookiee, Valentino, and Vivien.
Tropical moist lowland and mountain rainforests trees with interlacing crowns and many vines that allow for extensive lateral movement without descending to ground. Two-toed Sloths are pregnant for about ten months. While hanging upside down, they give birth to a single offspring, which spends the first five weeks of its life hanging onto its mother as she moves through the rainforest in search of food. Young stay with their mother for up to two years.
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Many other tree-dwelling mammals — from squirrels to monkeys — run along the tops of branches. What caused sloths to eventually adapt to a different perspective? The answer probably has something to do with saving energy.
When a creature moves along the top of a tree branch, Nyakatura points out, the animal has to balance. Sloths sidestep this extra energy expenditure by simply hanging below branches. More than that, xenarthrans typically have low metabolic rates compared to other mammals, so the similar evolutionary patterns in two- and three-toed sloths may partially stem from a shared physiology.
Animals of the Rainforest-Sloth
Together, two- and three-toed sloths illustrate the relationship between constraint and convergence. To say that natural selection repeated itself would miss the broader picture. Starting from terrestrial origins, both sloth lineages were adapted in similar ways due to particular, shared constraints.
Sloths may have taken to the trees thanks to the digging adaptations of their ancestors, but other inherited traits limited the ways they could climb through the canopy. And, since we're on the topic, I think there's no better time to share this insufferably cute video of baby sloths:. Top Image: A two-toed sloth.
Image by Dave Pape, via Wikipedia. Nyakatura, J.
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It's true the tropical tree dwellers possess the lowest metabolic rates of any non-hibernating mammals. But when it comes to their biology, the Central and South American critters are anything but boring. For instance, sloths are actually three times faster in water than they are on land, says Becky Cliffe , a zoologist and founder of the Costa Rica-based Sloth Conservation Foundation. See ridiculously cute pictures of baby sloths. They're like big balls of air with arms and legs.
Why are Sloths So Slow? And Other Sloth Facts
How long do you think you could hang upside down in a tree? A minute? Sloths do it all day, every day. The six species of sloth have evolved long claws that act like hooks and tendons that draw their digits closed when at rest. Sloths also have a network of blood vessels running through their forearms to keep their muscles cool and reduce energy usage.
Sloths are also shockingly strong, even though their muscle mass is 30 percent less than that of similarly sized animals.