Industrious Sloth


W07Oct2019Sloths have an unfair reputation for being lazy, since their lifestyle is based on physiology and not lack of motivation. They have a low metabolic rate, less than half what would be expected for their body size. They partly control their temperature by sunning themselves, like cold blooded animals. They are only found in Central and South America, since clearly it would be hard to stay warm enough in colder climates. They are the world’s slowest mammal, and since they spend 90% of their time motionless, they end up usually only moving around 125 feet a day.

They eat mainly leaves, but since they don’t have incisors they effectively break them down between their tough lips. Since these are low in nutrients and hard to digest, sloths have large multi-chambered stomachs that may take up to a month to digest a single leaf. The success of their lifestyle depends on not doing too much, the opposite of most people running and going to the gym to maximize their workout benefits. Sloths burn only 110 calories a day, the lowest energy output of any mammal.

I watched this sloth for quite a while, slowly making its way toward me, blocked from any photo opportunity by a thick network of branches. Finally it briefly popped its head up to nab a particularly juicy snack, and I had a chance to take this shot before it sunk again into a sea of green leaves. In order to get the picture, I needed to be patient and channel my sloth spirit. It was so enjoyable now I need to go eat a salad and bask in the afternoon sun!