Why Are Sloths So Slow? 🦥

3 min read

Morning Slowpoke!

Hey look, a sloth.

Jeez… that took forever.

Why on earth are sloths so damn slow?

First, pretty much all sloths live right here:

Hanging about in the trees of Central and South America.

Basically, just sitting around all day eating leaves off trees, sleeping and… that's it.

So yeah, sloths are basically vegans.

But this diet of literally just eating leaves has its drawbacks.

See, animals get their energy from the stuff they shove into the mouth.

They use this energy to move about,

keep their body temperature stable,

and keep their organs running…

You get the gist.

But there's a problem…

Leaves kinda SUCK as an energy source.

Most animals that eat leaves also eat some other stuff like fruit and nuts, which provide them with a good amount of energy.

But most sloths only eat 1 thing… leaves.

So sloths have developed a couple of neat strategies for coping with such a restricted leafy diet.

For starters, they extract as much energy from their food as physically possible.

They’ve got this weird, multi-chambered stomach that takes up a 3rd of their entire body.

Most sloths can spend like a week+ to fully process a meal.

In order to squeeze out the most amount of energy out of every leaf, they possibly can.

The other piece of the puzzle is to use as little of this energy as possible…

That means not moving very much.

Here's what the average week looks like for a sloth:

So ye, they basically just sleep all the time (like 20 hours a day).

Then, at some point during the night, they get up, have a couple of leaves, and go back to sleep.

Then once a week they descend from the canopy for a poop.

And when they do this, they don't move very fast.

It would take a sloth like 5 minutes to cross a regular neighborhood street.

This slow life means they also don't need very much muscle.

With most sloths having 30% less muscle than other animals of similar size.

So, basically, because sloths eat low energy food, they lead a low energy life!

Stay Cute,
Reece, Henry & Dylan 🌈

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