Facts about Sloths for Kids
We have some really cool Sloth Facts For Kids to help you learn more about these cute little creatures. Sloths are timid looking furry animals with an endearing face that almost seems to smile for the camera. Sloths became popular among kids, thanks to Sid, the enthusiastic and funny character in the animated movie series, The Ice Age. Although, in reality, sloths are nowhere near as excitable as Sid nor would they ever associate with a predator (remember Diego, the saber-toothed tiger?), they are far more interesting animals. Yes, even without a family of giant woolly mammoth for friends.
Photo Credit: Carol Schaffer under CC license 2.0
(No) Need for Speed
Sloths mostly eat leaves that do not give them a lot of energy. So these animals are very slow-moving and can spend hours hanging from a branching without any movement. They move climb trees at 6-8 ft per minute and move on ground at maximum of 3 ft per minute! Even their digestive system is very slow. Some food items take a whole month to digest. Their slow metabolism also helps sloths survive falls from high branches that would kill off most animals.
Who Needs a Bath?
Sloths have grooved hair on their body which is the perfect breeding ground for algae. But, even though we may cringe at the thought, the sloth sees the algae more as a bit of a nibble than dirt. So, who needs a bath when you have snack growing on your body? The greening algae also provide the sloths with the perfect camouflage against predators. Their fur is curved from the belly towards the back to drain off rainwater as they hang from branches.
… But I don’t mind a swim!
While a sloth is very slow on the ground, it is a powerful swimmer. Sometimes a sloth may drop into a river from the tree and cross it with confident breaststrokes!
Meet The Claw of Doom!
Sloths have really powerful claws that grip the branches of the tree like a safety hook. In fact, their grip is so strong sometimes a sloth remains hanging from a branch even after it dies!
The Toe of Distinction
Now there are two families of sloths: the Two Toed and the Three Toed. The two toed sloths move faster. But three toed sloths have an extra neck vertebra which allows them to rotate their heads 270 degrees.
The Sloth Diet
Sloths usually eat leaves and an occasional fruit if it chances upon one. Due this low calorie, low nutrition diet the sloth has only about 25 percent muscle mass compared to mammals its size. This helps them hang from the trees longer.
Sleepyheads of the Jungle
Sloths’ ‘green diet’ gives them very little energy. Running away from danger drains a lot of their energy. That’s why sloths spend from 15 to 18 hours a day sleeping.
The Evolution Diary of Sloths
Sloths belong to a group of mammals that appeared on earth 60 million years ago. Fossils show that Giant Ground Sloths, some the size of dogs and some the size of elephants, lived across the United States of America thousands of years ago. But they became extinct 10,000 years ago and the sloths of today are distant relatives of these mighty animals. Today, sloths are found in the Tropical Forests of Central and South America.
All that being said, it is sad to know that this very interesting animal is now an endangered species. Deforestation and habitat destruction have left a lot of sloths homeless. Due to their lack of agility a lot of these harmless animals have died. There are several organizations that are helping sloths like the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary that have rescued wounded and abandoned sloths and released 130 of them into the wild again. If we are not careful, these interesting creatures could be wiped off the earth soon.