Sloths! (Fun Facts and Adorable Photos)

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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!

Fun facts about sloths in Costa Rica

Fun fact #1: 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
Just conserving energy.

Fun fact #2: 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. This is pretty much the only time they are on the ground on purpose.

Jaguar Rescue Center

Fun fact #3: Sloths can swim! They may look awkward on land, but their long arms actually make them pretty good swimmers.

Sloth Sanctuary

Fun fact #4: The two-fingered and three-fingered sloths come from completely separate families of animals, and do not ever mate together. (Which kind is your favorite? I love the permanent smiles on the faces of the three-toed sloths!)

Fun fact #5: Sloths sleep more than half the day (up to 18 hours) and are most active at night.

Sloth Sanctuary

Fun fact #6: 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

Fun fact #7: Baby sloths in the wild stay with their mothers until they are roughly a year old. They ride on their mothers' bellies as Mom climbs through the trees.

Jaguar Rescue Center
Poor orphaned baby sloth.

Fun fact #8: Even though they look kind of like monkeys, the closest relatives to the sloth are armadillos and anteaters.

Jaguar Rescue Center

Fun fact #9: In the wild, sloths usually live 15-20 years. Some people will tell you that their lifespan can double in captivity, though I'm not sure if that's accurate or not.

Sloth Sanctuary

Fun fact #10: 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

Fun fact #11: 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, like in the photo below.)

Jaguar Rescue Center

Fun fact #12: Three-fingered sloths can turn their heads up to 300 degrees! Wild!

Sloth Sanctuary

Fun fact #13: The biggest threat to a sloth is humans and manmade development. In Costa Rica, sloths are most often killed by climbing on poorly insulated 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

WHERE TO SEE SLOTHS IN COSTA RICA

You can often see wild sloths in the trees as your travel around Costa Rica. If you want to learn more about these fascinating animals and the conservation work that goes into saving them, I recommend checking out:

The Sloth Sanctuary – Located 30 minutes south of Limon on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, the Sloth Sanctuary is dedicated to caring for injured and orphaned sloths. The sanctuary offers tours to visitors on the hour from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Their 2-hour tours are $30 per person.

Jaguar Rescue Center – Located in Puerto Viejo, the Jaguar Rescue Center rescues and rehabilitates all sorts of Costa Rican animals, from monkeys to sloths to toucans. I actually preferred the Jaguar Rescue Center to the Sloth Sanctuary. Tours are offered here at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday and cost $20 per person.

Which sloth fact surprised you the most?

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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36 Comments on “Sloths! (Fun Facts and Adorable Photos)

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

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

    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!

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

    I think sloths are adorable and can’t wait to see them for myself.

    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.

      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!)

    These are cute!!
    And going to the bathroom a few times per month is not that bad at all 🙂

    One word: ADORABLE. Definitely putting the sanctuary on my must-visit list!

      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!

    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!

      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!

    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.

      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.

    They look cute! I have never seen one up close, but they seem cuddly from your photos!

      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!

    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! 🙂

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

    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.

      They are so talented at blending in that, yes, they are very tricky to spot in the wild!

    I need a sloth. One day I want a sanctuary . I would love a sloth and a baby pigmy goat along with other adorable creatures 🙂

      Sloths are definitely adorable! They are one of my favorite animals.

    I’ve love sloths since I saw one swim in a flood years ago. Thank you for the wonderful information. You’re better than the net!

    My grandaughter aged nine is totally crazy about sloths! She adores them and collects everything she can about sloths. Her aim in life is to come and visit them and work with animals. I am helping her to create a topic and talk on them to her class.

    Thanks for sharing your photos and your fun facts. I love Sloths too . The 3 toed sloths are my favorite. Thanks again for sharing. Dawn

      They are my favorites, too! I just love how they always look like they’re smiling.

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