Friday, September 24, 2010

Hoffman's Two Toed Sloth

I'm in the mood for something endearing today, though I suppose my concept of "endearing" might be a little off. I love sloths. I think they are adorable and awesome, even if they can't walk on land and have fur covered in algae. Don't believe me? Think sloths are lame? Just watch these videos...

Man, I just love sloths. So today we're going to talk about the Hoffman's Two Toed Sloth, one of two species of Two Toed Sloth. Choloepus hoffmanni can be found in rainforest-type areas in South and Central America, where they are almost completely arboreal.

(Image Source)
And when I say "almost" I mean that they come down from the trees literally once a week in order to urinate and defecate. Their metabolism is so slow that once a week is all they need, and at that time they may lose up to 30% of their body weight! They will also descend when moving to a different tree, but their physiology makes them unable to walk, so instead they have to drag themselves across the ground to get where they are going. They actually have the lowest muscle mass to body weight ratio of any mammal, as well as the lowest variable body temperature (as low as 86 degrees F)! Surprisingly, they are pretty good swimmers.

Hoffman's Two Toed Sloths do just about everything upside down, including giving birth. Their bodies have adapted well to such a life; even their hair parts on the belly rather than the back, allowing rain to run off of them easier. These sloths also have a weird relationship with Algae. Their hair is wonderful for Algae growth, which helps to camouflage the Sloths, and potentially provide them with a meal. Sloths require camouflage to stay safe from potential predators, including Snakes, Eagles, and Cats.

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