Myths about Sloths

Although there are loads of sloth myths on the internet coming indigenous self-appointed sloth experts, there room actually very few scientific researches that have actually been done on sloths. It´s really hard to examine sloths in their herbal habitat (the dense primary rainforest) since they live high increase in the trees and also they space so fine camouflaged. Their enigmatic nature may be the reason why people have come up through some bizarre myths about them! below are several of the most usual myths about sloths (including several of our favorites).

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Challenge yourself to uncover the sloth in the photo in less than 30 secs (…and this is not even a really dense rainforest)!

Sloth myth 1- Sloths are so dumb castle mistake their very own arms for tree branches.

We don’t know exactly where Douglas Adams got this information from as soon as writing “The Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy” but it is regrettably and fully wrong. Sloths space actually an extremely careful when they move around in the trees. before they move, they have to be certain that the branch they space holding onto is strong enough to bring their weight. Also, their grip is incredibly strong (stronger than any human), and also so they would probably an alert if they got onto their very own arm! Sloths may not have big brains, however they are definitely not the slow-witted!

Do i really look the naive?

Sloth legend 2- Sloths room bears, primates, or marsupials.

Our lovely sloths room actually something called Xenarthrans – a very ancient super-order that mammals the includes every one of the modern sloths, and also anteaters and armadillos. 

Maybe some world think that sloths room primates because, choose monkeys, lock live in the trees. Or possibly that they space marsupials because they are comparable in nature to koalas. In Spanish, the name for sloth is “oso perezoso”, which deserve to be translated as “sloth bear” or “lazy bear”. common names deserve to be confusing, i m sorry is why clinical names space so helpful! together it transforms out, over there is in reality something dubbed a “sloth bear” (Melursus ursinus) and also it has absolutely nothing to carry out with sloths. Sloth bears room true bears the live in India, Sri Lanka and also Nepal.

Sloths are also known together “Oso perezoso” in Spanish: which converts as “sloth bear”! /Smithsonian zoo

When these bears were an initial described in the scientific literature by George shaw in 1971, they were mistakenly thought to be regarded the tree sloths of south and central America – and also consequently, they were offered the name ‘sloth bear’. Time and added specimens at some point revealed your true taxonomic relationships, but the confusing common name remains.

Sloth legend 3 – Sloths are poor mothers.

A sloth mom will lug her baby about on her chest for an entire year. A infant sloth is strong enough to cling onto mom’s hair from the minute they space born, but sometimes they loss from the canopy (all baby pets are a bit clumsy and sloths space no exception). As soon as this happens, mom will progressively climb all of the way down to the forest floor to retrieve her baby.

While the infant is top top the ground, it will cry out to attract the mom’s attention. This loud cry additionally attracts the fist of adjacent humans, and they often assume that the baby has actually been abandoned. This provides sloth moms a negative reputation – castle don’t realize that mom is hiding up in the canopy, waiting for anyone to go away so that she deserve to climb down safely.

With all of the finest intentions, people lug hundreds of infant sloths right into rescue centers annually – and in a the majority of cases, they have been unnecessarily rescued by accident! Sloth moms space actually wonderful moms. If she feels threatened, she will certainly do every little thing in her power to protect her baby. She will also use her own body as a shield if they room being struck to prevent any kind of harm from comes to her baby.

Sloths room actually an excellent moms: they have actually a lot of patience. 

Sloth legend 4 – Sloths will certainly raid your crops.

This is a typical complaint about many various species, and also a most wild pets do raid plants – yet we shouldn’t expect anything else as soon as we space using the habitats of these pets for agriculture!

Sloths, however, are absolutely not chop raiders. Firstly, it takes a sloth 30 days come digest a leaf and also so castle really have actually no attention in gobbling down mountains of food. They additionally eat the pipeline of up to 90 species of tree in the rainforest, but they nothing have any type of interest in human plants at all (these foods items are not part of your diet).

Vegetarian? Vegan? Go folivorous!

Sloth legend 5- Sloths are dirty, smelly, and also disgusting

Despite gift loved by civilization all over the world, a lot of of world that grow up in close proximity to sloths think the they room gross and also dirty. Having fur that is covered in green algae and filled with numerous invertebrates absolutely doesn’t watch clean. However, some species of mushroom living in the hair of sloths may organize the key to curing cancer in humans! 

Sloths have the right to not sweat (except the guideline of the sleep for two-fingered sloths) and also so, unequal humans, they have actually no human body odor. Sloths in reality smell as with the jungle: fresh, green, and a tiny bit earthy. Smelling like the rainforest is a great way to hide from predators v a keen feeling of smell. Sloths are the masters of tropical camouflage!

These moths and also algae room unique species that just live in the hair of sloths!

Sloth legend 6 – Sloths bring contagious diseases

Among countless local human being in Costa Rica, over there is a strong misconception that sloths carry the feared “papalomoyo”, a an illness commonly recognized as Leishmaniasis. This an illness is actually led to by a protozoan flesh-eating parasite called ‘Leishmania’. If it sounds nasty, that is. SloCo founder Dr. Rebecca Cliffe contracted this condition several years earlier while walking she dog top top the coast (you deserve to read around her painful therapy here).

Sloths are, in scientific terms, a ‘reservoir’ because that leishmania, yet so are numerous other mammals – including dogs! there is no means a sloth deserve to transmit leishmaniasis come a human being – this only happens with the bite of one infected sandfly.

Sandflies are incredibly small, however their bites hurt and also itch because that days!

Sloth legend 7 – Sloths are slow due to the fact that they space intoxicated

No, sloths are not “stoned” on leaves! and the fermentation process that wake up in the stomach doesn’t render castle drunk either. There are number of different factors underlying the sloths’ slowness: bad vision, predator avoidance, a low-calorie diet, committed muscle fibers, a slow price of digestion, and low metabolic rate. We explain all of these reasons in depth in this article!

Not sufficient toxins to gain doped up in this leaf

Sloth legend 8 – Sloths sleep for 20 hrs per day

Sloths don’t in reality sleep that much at all – research has shown that on average, wild sloths just sleep for 8-10 hrs a day. In comparison, the likewise sized howler monkey sleeps because that 15 hours a day, while koalas will frequently clock increase 20 hours!

Sloths in zoos, sanctuaries and also rescue centers could sleep a lot much more than their wild counterparts because of the ease of captivity, but this definitely doesn’t use to life in the jungle.


Howler monkeys and also koalas (and person teenagers) sleep much much more than sloths do!

Sloth legend 9- If you rotate a sloth the right method up it will certainly explode

While that is true that they only defecate as soon as a week, and that your four-chambered stomachs are full of fermentation gases, we can confirm the they don’t explode, also if they get constipated.

We deserve to confirm that this is not an exploding sloth.

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Sloth legend 10 – The greatest myth of all: sloths space lazy

“The lowest kind of presence …one more defect and also they could not have actually existed.” This glowing report is exactly how sloths officially gone into the clinical literature ago in the 18th century by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (or ‘buffoon’ together we prefer to speak to him). Sloths were called after the fatal sin of being “slothful”, and they were unceremoniously provided the location of being the world’s laziest animal. the is a hard reputation to bounce ago from!

However, together we have currently described above, sloths don’t actually sleep the much. They are slow and also careful – which has tricked scientists right into wrongly believing the they just sleep all day. Being slow-moving is much from lazy. That is an unbelievably effective survival strategy! 

A classic GIF picture of Buttercup native The Sloth Sanctuary

Bonus myth: sloths have gigantic snakes as pets that defend them native predators

Seriously – this is a real myth. Of course, this isn’t true, yet we gained inspired come imagine how it can look…