Brown-throated three-toed sloth
Sloths are extremely slow-moving, arboreal (tree-dwelling), medium-sized mammals, native to the jungles of Central and South America. Their hands and feet have long, curved claws that allow them to hang upside down from branches without effort. While they sometimes sit up on top of branches, they usually eat, sleep, and even give birth hanging from tree limbs. Even after death, they sometimes remain hanging from branches.
The bulk of their diets consist of buds, tender shoots, and leaves, mainly of Cecropia trees. Sloths have made extraordinary adaptations to this arboreal browsing lifestyle. Leaves, their main food source, provide very little energy or nutrients, and do not digest easily. Sloths have evolved large, specialized, slow-acting stomachs with multiple compartments in which symbiotic bacteria break down the tough leaves. Since leaves provide so little energy, sloths have also evolved a range of measures to economize energy: they have very low metabolic rates (less than half of that expected for a mammal of their size), and maintain low body temperatures when active (30–34°C or 86–93°F), and even lower temperatures when resting. As much as two-thirds of a well-fed sloth’s body weight consists of the contents of its stomach, and the digestive process can take a month or more to complete. They love to eat hibiscus flowers like I love to eat chocolate. Sloths have about a quarter as much muscle tissue as other animals of similar weight, and sleep about 10 hours a day. (OMFG. I could totally be a sloth!)
Here is a baby sloth named Matty offering to share his hibiscus with you.
[h/t David Neale]
A sloth is also a remarkable ecosystem unto itself: a single sloth may be home to non-parasitic insects such as moths, beetles, and cockroaches as well as ciliates, fungi, algae and two species of symbiotic cyanobacteria, which provide the sloth camouflage. Sloths benefit from their relationship with moths, for example, because the moths fertilize the algae on the sloth, which in turn provides the sloth with nutrients.
Here are cute baby sloths getting a bath:
Within the tropical rainforests of South and Central America, sloths are outstandingly successful creatures. Four of the six living species, including the brown-throated three-toed sloth, are presently rated “least concern”; the maned three-toed sloth (Bradypus torquatus), which inhabits Brazil’s dwindling Atlantic Forest, is classified as “endangered”, while the island-dwelling pygmy three-toed sloth (B. pygmaeus) is critically endangered. The primary predators of sloths are the jaguar, the harpy eagle, and human poachers. Although all extant species are tree dwellers, extinct sloth species include many ground sloths, some of which attained the size of elephants.
In Costa Rica, the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary cares for wounded and abandoned sloths. To date about 130 animals have been released back into the wild.
- 2 ounces Bitter Truth Sloe Gin.
- 1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice.
- 1 teaspoon simple syrup (or 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar).
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) club soda.
- lemon wedge or slice.
Combine sloe gin, lemon juice and simple syrup (or sugar) in a cocktail shaker filled half way with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled. Taste, and adjust if necessary with additional lemon or simple syrup/sugar. Shake. Strain cocktail into a glass filled with ice then top with club soda and garnish with lemon wedge.