Are Sloths Dangerous? (Or Friendly??)

Sloths are adorable animals that are known for being slow and lethargic. But are these creatures considered dangerous?  

Are sloths dangerous? Sloths are not considered dangerous animals. Even though they live in jungles full of big cats and deadly snakes, these animals are very harmless. Even though they are not aggressive animals, sloths can use their claws and their teeth to defend themselves against attacks. 

As you probably know, sloths are very slow. In fact, it can take them an entire day to move about 100 feet! The laziness of sloths is actually their most powerful weapon. The predators that are found in jungles are trained to spot sudden movements, and sloths are so slow that predators do not usually even see the sloths chilling out in the trees. 

RELATED: Are Sloths Monkeys? (+ do they die when they poop??)

Sloths Infographic
Sloths Infographic

Are the claws of a sloth dangerous? 

If you have seen a picture of a sloth, you might have noticed their claws gripped around the branch of a tree. So are these claws dangerous? While it does look like they have long and sharp nails, sloths use their claws to climb and hang out in the trees. For the most part, sloths will avoid conflicts or any other animals, but if attacked, they will defend themselves.  

RELATED: Do Sloths Have Ears? (Are They Deaf??)

Can sloths give humans diseases? 

Now that we know that sloths are not dangerous to us, you may still be wondering if there are any illnesses that sloths can give us. Sometimes, animals can give us diseases (these are called zoonotic diseases). And the reverse is also true – humans can give diseases to other animals.

These illnesses are dangerous because it affects more than one species and it can mutate and become more dangerous. But luckily, sloths do not make humans sick. Sloths usually live away from humans, and because of that, no human has ever been infected by an illness that sloths carry.

And while it may sound gross to learn that algae and fungi grow in a sloth’s fur, know that these life forms are also not a threat to humans. So on top of not being physically dangerous to humans, sloths also cannot make people sick.  

READ ALSO: How Do Guinea Pigs Show Affection?

Were giant sloths dangerous? 

About 10,000 years ago, the ancestors of the sloth, the giant Megatherium (aka the giant sloth) lived in South America. These animals grew to be about the size of modern rhinoceros! They were mainly herbivores, but paleontologists believe that they might have been opportunistic carnivores. This means that if they needed to defend themselves against predators or other giant sloths, they would.  

Do humans pose a danger to sloths? 

While sloths pose zero threat to humans, humans are the number one threat to sloths. Humans are behind deforestation, which is the loss of forests and jungles due to the building of cities, farms, and mining. Deforestation leads to the loss of habitat for sloths, which is decreasing their population.

On top of deforestation, their habitat has been fragmented, which means that their homeland has been broken up into smaller areas due to urbanization. This makes each area isolated from each others and this poses a risk for sloths as well. Additionally, some humans will hunt sloths for meat. 

READ NEXT: Do Foxes Bark? (What noises do they make?)

Are sloths endangered? 

There are six species of sloths:

  1. pygmy three-toed sloth,
  2. maned sloth,
  3. pale throated sloth,
  4. brown-throated sloth,
  5. Linnaeus’s two-toed slow, and
  6. Hoffman’s two-toed sloth.

Of these sloths, the maned sloth is listed as vulnerable and the pygmy sloth is critically endangered.

The pygmy three-toed sloth is considered to be one of the most endangered animals in the whole world. This sloth lives on a single uninhabited island off the coast of Panama and there are only about 100 of these sloths left. These sloths are also the smallest members of the sloth family. The best option for the survival of this species is reforestation. 

Why are sloths so slow? 

Why are sloths so slow?
Why are sloths so slow?

The reason that sloths are so slow is that their metabolic rate is so low. And this is because they eat a diet of mostly leaves, which are low in calories and in nutrition. Also, since sloths live in tropical forests where it is hot and humid, they do not really have to do much to keep their muscles warm, so they are content to just take it easy.