What Do Sloths Eat?

What Do Sloths Eat?

There are actually different species of sloth, although they are all characterized by their lack of incisor teeth. This odd feature is shared by anteaters and armadillos. Sloths are known for spending most of their time dozing on tree branches; when they move to feed or simply change their posture, they can do so unobserved thanks to the extremely slow way they do so. Watching sloths is like watching plants grow - you just don't see it.

If you want to learn more about this fascinating mammal, this AnimalWised article will tell you all about their diet. Learn what do sloths eat, and remember that they are seriously endangered and must be protected.

Where do sloths live?

An animal's natural habitat is of key importance in determining its diet and evolution, since a species' survival depends on what they can get and digest from their environment. It's not only about variety but also about quantity; a sloth must find enough food to fulfill all its nutritional requirements.

Sloths are found in the wild in Central and South America, and they usually inhabit forests and tropical rainforests; their organism is barely able to keep their body temperature stabilized, so they require a warm environment with little climatic variation.

These mammals spend most of their time on the trees, where they can get their food just by reaching with their claws. They have very little muscular mass, so they can barely walk on their legs; this also contributes to their slow movement.

The digestive system of sloths

Sloths' stomachs are divided into compartments; they share this characteristic with ruminants such as sheep or cows. The structure of their stomachs, as well as the microbial flora they include, are absolutely necessary to fully digest the vegetables' cellulose. The different compartments separate the food they ingest and help digest it.

A sloth's diet is rich in fiber, and its digestion can take up to a month. Because of their very slow metabolism, sloths actually need very little food.

What do sloths eat?

Sloths are part of the suborder Folivora. This name comes from Latin, and it literally means "leaf-eater"; this mammal basically eats leaves, flowers and tender stalks. They can get their food without leaving their homes - that is, the canopies of the tree they have chosen to live in.

An environmentally-conscious animal

Sloths seem to feel a kind of gratitude for the tree they feed on; we can see that through a very particular and ecologically-friendly behavior.

These animals come down from their trees only once a week in order to fulfill their physiological needs. Technically speaking, they could do that from the branches; however, sloths prefer to come down, dig a hole by the tree's roots, deposit their feces there and then bury them. This way, their waste acts as a natural fertilizer; sloths give back the nutrients they've taken from the tree, in a way.

A seriously endangered animal

Sloths' relaxed and slow lifestyle make it easier for illegal hunters and poachers to take advantage. This is especially true for three-toed sloths (Bradypodidae); adult sloths are often killed in order to steal their cubs and sell them as pets.

If you want to read similar articles to What Do Sloths Eat?, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.