The California Native International Adventures

Since 1983

From The California Native Newsletter:

“Easy Does It” For the 2-Toed Sloth

Two-toed Sloth By Lori Klein
Hanging upside-down from the branches of trees in Costa Rica's lush rain forests, sleep the two and three-toed sloths. The Spanish word for sloth is perezoso, meaning “lazy”, and the sloths, who sleep around eighteen hours a day, live up to their reputation.

Because of their “lazy” or slow-moving nature, sloths live high in the forest canopy, which camouflages them from predators. They spend most of their time in the trees, descending only to take care of bodily functions which, because of their slow digestive system, they need do only once a week. Upon descending from the tree, the sloth digs a little hole and buries its wastes. This fertilizes the tree the sloth has been feeding upon. Insects, which live on the sloth, lay their eggs in its droppings. Each sloth acts like a miniature ecosystem in which hundreds of insects survive on its back, eating molds, fungus and insects.

By adulthood sloths are about as big as a medium sized dog. Their permanent smiling expression gives them almost human-like characteristics. These fascinating creatures can live up to thirty years. They begin reproducing at about age three and bear one baby a year. Unfortunately, if a baby falls from the tree, the mother will let it die, rather than climb down and expose herself to predators attracted by the baby's cries.

Costa Rica is a wonderful place to observe and photograph sloths, because of the abundance of cecropia trees, which are the sloth's favorite food. The leaves of these trees are spread out enough to make “sloth-watching” easy, and “sloth-watchers”. . . yawn . . tend to be very. . . yawn . . . relaxed individuals.

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