Silly Sloth Facts- True or False
Hi Sloth Lovers! It is me, Claire. Today I am blogging about questions I am asked while I am giving tours here at the Sloth Sanctuary. I’m frequently asked by guests if something they have heard about sloths is true. Every time I think I’ve heard it all, somebody comes up with something new. What is really disturbing is that some of this information is coming from tour guides and some of it has been published as fact. Here’s a sampling of some of the things I’ve heard:
- Are sloths full of disease-carrying parasites that live in their hair?
- Does it takes a sloth 24 hours to have sex?
- Do sloths have venom sacs in their mouths; if they bite you, do you die?
- When it’s time for sloths to go to the bathroom, do they let go of the tree and free-fall to the ground?
- Do sloths sleep for 18 hours a day?
- In captivity, do sloths get depressed if they occupy an enclosure alone?
- Is it true that sloths do not have ears?
- Sloths are deaf, is it because their hair that covers their ears?
- Are sloths descendants of an alien race that came to earth eons ago? (This is my personal favorite!)
I am going to reply to each one of these “Silly Sloth Questions” one by one in our new series:
“Demystifying the Sloth“
#1. Do sloths have all kinds of icky bugs living in their hair?
No. The only insect routinely found in a sloth’s hair are little “sloth moths”. They are not parasites. They have a symbiotic relationship with the sloth. Due to the wet climate of the rainforest algae grows on the sloths’ hair. The algae in the sloth’s hair provides food for the sloth moth. When the sloth defecates, the “poo” provides a medium in which the sloth moths lays her eggs. In return, the amount of algae in the sloth’s hair is kept under control. The purpose of the algae? Visual and olfactory camouflage. Insects like fleas and ticks don’t even like to bite sloths because of their low body temperature. They would rather hitch a ride on hosts with warmer blood. Sloths are incredibly clean animals with no body odor.
My dogs should smell so good! Stay turned for my next blog post……. #2 Does it take sloths 24 hours to have sex?