These upside-down oddities have an average speed of 13–15 feet per minute!
Day of Creation: 6
Biblical Kind: sloth (includes all sloth species)
Status: least concern
Length: 2–2.5 feet
Weight: 10–20 pounds
Habitat: rainforests of southern Central and northern South America
Lifespan: 20–40 years
Diet: leaves, flowers, fruits
Family Life: solitary
Reproduction: single babies are born after 12-month gestations
Sloths move slowly because of their extremely low metabolic rates, which are less than half of what is normal for other mammals their size. They also have very low body temperatures, ranging from 68–93°F.
However, sloths are excellent swimmers and can reach swimming speeds of 44 feet per minute! When threatened, they may purposefully fall out of trees into bodies of water. They may then sink to the bottom and slow their heart rates to less than 1/3 of what is normal, allowing them to hold their breath underwater for up to 40 minutes to hide.
The hair on sloths grows in the direction from their undersides to their backs (as opposed to other animals whose hair grows in the direction from their backs to their undersides) to allow water to flow off their bodies when they hang upside-down.
The sloth digestive process can take up to a month to complete, and two-thirds of a sloth’s body weight may be just its stomach contents.
Sloth forelimbs are up to 50% longer than their hindlimbs! They come down from the trees only about once a week to defecate, as they can barely move on the ground due to their claws and weak hind limbs. In fact, muscle mass makes up only 25–30% of their weights, while the muscle mass of most other mammals makes up 40–45% of their weights.