Hump day: Wacky and weird facts about sloths

It’s Wednesday and that means hump day. Do you need that extra push to get over the hump? Don’t feel like a sloth today, instead, read these weird facts on the mystical creatures:


1. They aren’t that slothful

Sloths have long had a reputation for lying around and doing nothing for most of their existence. That’s why they’re called ‘nature’s brother-in-law’. A recent study, however, abolishes that long held belief. The Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany studied the brain wave patterns of three-toed sloths in the Panamanian rainforest instead of those in captivity by fixing a brainwave cap to each of the animals. The data showed that the wild sloths only slept just over 9 1/2 hours a day and not the 15 to 20 hours on average that science recorded from captive sloths.

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2. They can retain their grip after death

Since they spend most of their time in trees, sloths’ muscles and limbs have been engineered to climb trunks to find food and escape predators. They spend so much time in the trees that the tree holds their very life in the balance, sometimes even after they’ve died, according to National Geographic. Thanks to their claws and muscles, the grip of a sloth is so strong that sometimes when they die, they are found still clinging to the very branch they were lounging from when they were alive.

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3. There used to be ‘mega-sloths’

Sloths may not look very menacing or even dangerous, but if their ancestors caught you, they could make you wish for a quick and swift death. As early as 10,000 years ago, the giant Megatherium aka ‘the giant sloth’ roamed the Earth. They lived in what is now South America and have been described as the same size as the modern rhinoceros before their extinction. They were mainly herbivores, but some paleontologists suggest they could have been ‘opportunistic carnivores’ if they needed to defend themselves from predators or other Megatheriums.

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4. Sloths only go to the bathroom once a week

Part of the reason why so many people consider sloths to be slothful is their diet. They have a very low metabolism and have to eat a lot to get the nutrients their body needs. Since it takes so long for a sloth to digest the food it eats, it only urinates or defecates about once a week, usually during the few times it leaves the tree.

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5. Some thought a dead Panamanian sloth was an alien

A group of teenagers in the Cerro Azul region of Panama City got the scare of their life when they saw a dead, unidentified, pale being lying on a rock and snapped a couple of photos of its body. They posted it on the internet where it went viral and became ‘Panama ET’, sparking a ton of theories that it might have been some kind of alien. A biopsy, however, revealed it to be a three-toed sloth that had already died in the river, causing its hair to fall out and make its skin look almost translucent.

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Watch: Baby sloths getting a bath

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Holly Konig

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