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I think I have a new favorite animal.

And that animal is the sloth.

These weird-yet-adorable creatures call the forests of Central and South America home, dangling from trees their whole lives and remaining generally low-key. Because they are so chilled-out and not usually anyone’s favorite animal, I actually knew very little about sloths until I went to Costa Rica and visited a couple animal sanctuaries to learn about them.

Spending time observing these creatures at both the Sloth Sanctuary and the Jaguar Rescue Center helped me not only learn a lot about sloths, but also fall in love with them.

Read on to learn some fun facts about sloths, and to see plenty of adorable and funny photos!

Jaguar Rescue Center

Sloths are slow — but not necessarily lazy. Their diet consists almost entirely of leaves, which are not very nutrient-rich. The animals, therefore, need to conserve as much energy as possible.

Sloth Sanctuary

Because of their leafy diet, sloths digest their food very slowly. This means they only go to the bathroom a few times per month. When they have to “go,” they climb down out of their trees to do their business.

Jaguar Rescue Center

Sloths can swim! They may look awkward on land, but their long arms actually make them pretty good swimmers.

Sloth Sanctuary

The two-fingered and three-fingered sloths come from completely separate families of animals, and do not ever mate together.

Sloth Sanctuary

Sloths sleep more than half the day (up to 18 hours) and are most active at night.

Sloth Sanctuary

Sloths don’t make much noise. In fact, the only sound two-fingered sloths make is a hissing noise when they are scared. Female three-fingered sloths are slightly more vocal — they scream loudly when they are in heat to attract males.

Sloth Sanctuary

Baby sloths in the wild stay with their mothers until they are roughly a year old.

Jaguar Rescue Center

Even though they look kind of like monkeys, the closest relatives to the sloth are armadillos and anteaters.

Jaguar Rescue Center

In the wild, sloths usually live 15-20 years. That lifespan can double in captivity.

Sloth Sanctuary

Sloths don’t smell. In fact, they do not give off any sort of body odor as a way of staying camouflaged. Because they move so slowly, algae actually grows on their fur, making them smell like trees, thus protecting them further.

Sloth Sanctuary

Sloths are solitary creatures. Other than when a female has a baby to care for, sloths do not tend to live together. (This, of course, differs when young sloths are left motherless and end up at sanctuaries.)

Jaguar Rescue Center

Three-fingered sloths can turn their heads up to 300 degrees! Wild!

Sloth Sanctuary

The biggest threat to a sloth is humans and manmade development. In Costa Rica, sloths are most often killed by climbing on electrical wires, or being hit by cars.

Jaguar Rescue Center

And, lastly, sloths are cute! I mean, look at them!!

Jaguar Rescue Center

Jaguar Rescue Center


Which sloth fact surprised you the most?



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28 Responses to Sloths! (Fun Facts and Adorable Photos)

  1. rob says:

    One of the cutest animals around. “they sound like a tree”. Awesome.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Right?? I can’t stop looking at sloth photos and smiling. Even made one of them the background on my computer.

  2. Sam says:

    It seems like everyone who spends time in Costa Rica becomes totally enchanted or obsessed with sloths! From pictures, they just seem a bit creepy to me, but maybe they’re much cuter in real life…I’m looking forward to meeting some myself one day!
    Sam recently posted..6 Basic Travel Mistakes We Made that You Can Easily Avoid

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Haha. It seems like sloths are quite polarizing – either you find them adorable, or creepy! Clearly you know where I stand. ;)

  3. Gaelyn says:

    I think sloths are adorable and can’t wait to see them for myself.
    Gaelyn recently posted..Frog invasion at Kruger National Park

  4. Cute overload of the day: completed. :)

  5. Sloths are awesome! Shame we can’t have them as a pet, bet they’d make a wicked cup of tea, although it may take sometime.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Sloths are the coolest! Agreed about the pet thing… if they could be domesticated, I’d totally want one! (Just think – no smell, and you’d only have to clean up after them a few times per month!)

  6. adrienne says:

    Been enjoying your blog. I found it a few months ago when planning an iceland trip.

    Since the theme here is sloths, check out this hialrious video from the Ellen show.

    adrienne recently posted..Garam Masala Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  7. memographer says:

    These are cute!!
    And going to the bathroom a few times per month is not that bad at all :)
    memographer recently posted..Santiago de Chile: Street Photographer’s Paradise

  8. Pauline says:

    One word: ADORABLE. Definitely putting the sanctuary on my must-visit list!
    Pauline recently posted..Beautiful Churches: Paris Edition

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area! In fact, when I was planning my trip to Costa Rica, that was the only place I insisted on visiting!

  9. Arianwen says:

    Sloths are absolutely my favourite animal! And you have such great photos of them. When I was in Costa Rica, I didn’t have time to go to that sanctuary, although I’d read all about it. We saw a few sloths in the trees but they were always really far away. Thanks for the visual treat!
    Arianwen recently posted..Botanical Gardens in Rio

    • DangerousBiz says:

      They are so adorable! It’s impossible for me to see the little ones without bursting into a big ol’ grin!

      Sorry to hear you didn’t get to visit with any while you were in CR. :( Next time!

  10. Jessica says:

    I feel like sloths are unexpectedly trendy right now – I love it! I really can’t look at photos of them without feeling like I’m way more stressed out than I need to be.
    Jessica recently posted..They Say It’s One of Japan’s Most Beautiful Festivals…

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Haha “unexpectedly trendy” – love it! But that’s so true!

      You’re right, too – I can’t look at sloth photos and be in a bad mood.

  11. They look cute! I have never seen one up close, but they seem cuddly from your photos!
    Audrey | That Backpacker recently posted..The Bamboo Train in Battambang: The Good and the Ugly

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Sooo cute and cuddly! At the Jaguar Rescue Center, there were some employees/volunteers handling the babies (picking them up in blankets and helping them get into trees to climb around), and the little ones were so freaking adorable!

  12. Sofie says:

    LOVE this post!
    Great facts!
    Didn’t know at all they could swim. Did you see them swim. Must be a funny sight…
    So, that’s the fact that surprised me most:)
    Ow and the turning their nek 300°: crazy sh*t! :)
    Sofie recently posted..Finding THE sneakers in Breda, and then not buying them

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I did not get to see them swim, sadly, but I would love to! I didn’t realize they were good swimmers, either!

  13. Sloths are so hard to spot in the wild. I’ve been in areas where sloths live a few times, and I finally had a great local guide spot one up in a tree. I could barely see it, so I didn’t realize how cute they are.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..A lesson in Italian espresso drinks

  14. […] >> Read more about sloths in Costa Rica. […]

  15. […] up close with sloths in Costa Rica […]

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