Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth
Updated: 5 days ago
by Abbie Krause
Not so "lazy" after all!
The dictionary defines “sloth” as “laziness”. It makes some sense then, that the slowest moving mammal in the world would end up with this name. However, another way to look at it is that sloths make clever, efficient use of their resources. If Energy Star rated sloths, they would get 10 stars for energy conservation.
Sloth diet is typically nutrient poor and very hard to digest thus their metabolism is very slow. Their multi-compartment stomach helps them efficiently digest tough cellulose but it is a slow process. It may take thirty days to digest one leaf! As a result, sloths live in a way that conserves and maximizes their energy use as much as possible. Some of their strategies:
1) Move slow – they generally travel no more than 125 feet in a day. On the rare occasions they are on the ground, they move only 1 foot per minute. Don’t be fooled though, if threatened, they can move fast!
2) Nap often - In the wild, sloths sleep 8-9 hours a day. Sloths in zoos sleep 15 -20 hours a day.
3) Be regular – Sloths only poop about once a week given their slow metabolism.
4) Take the fast lane and breathe deeply – Sloths are very efficient swimmers, moving 3 times faster in the water, they can hold their breath for an impressive 40 minutes, suppressing their metabolism to make their heart rate a third of its normal speed.
5) Make friends – sloths have a symbiotic relationship with organisms that live in its fur. Moss, insects, beetles and many other critters feed off nutrients and crumbs found in sloth fur. The moss will then also act as camouflage in the trees. The sloth’s fur is so course and long though, that it does protect them from insects getting all the way to the skin. Their friend making skills are limited though as they generally lead a solitary life.
As we look for ways to efficiently us our own resources and stay healthy,
humans might learn from some of these strategies (although too much may get us in trouble).
Though rarely seen, sloths at the Pueblo Zoo have always been a favorite. Guests make it a game to see if they can spot him in the Rainforest. Foley is our current, handsome, young resident. At this time, the Rainforest is closed, as are all the zoo buildings, as a safety precaution due to Covid-19. As the Rainforest is an open contact area, it will likely be the last to re-open in order to keep animals safe. In the meantime, Foley can be seen in regular features on Facebook.