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

Sloths are fascinating creatures that tickle the imagination of countless people. They just might be the most peculiar mammal of them all. Let’s see what new info we can find out about them.

Are sloths monkeys? Although they’re both placental mammals and share some other similarities, sloths are not monkeys or primates. Sloths belong to xenarthrans that include armadillos, anteaters, and of course, sloths. They spend most of their time just hanging motionless in the trees. Monkeys are much much more active than sloths.

Scientific classificationSlothMonkey
Kingdom: AnimaliaAnimalia

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Table of Contents

What kind of an animal is a sloth?

Sloths are tree-dwelling placental mammals that belong to the superorder Xenarthra that is unique to the Americas and that has 31 living species that include, as already mentioned, anteaters, tree sloths, and armadillos.

The xenarthrans broke off from other placental mammals around 100 million years ago.

They’re most closely related to anteaters and together they make up the xenarthran order Pilosa. Pilosa means hairy in Latin. Sloths are aptly named because they are extremely slow and are moving in a deliberate way.

Do sloths die when they poop?

For a still unknown reason, sloths put themselves in grave danger every time they have to poop by climbing down from the tree and doing it on the ground where they are helpless and defenseless. Luckily, they only have to poop once a week because of their slow metabolism, but nevertheless, they are an easy target for predators when they do climb down.

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Sloths Infographic
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Where do sloths live?

They first arose in South America but eventually spread to a number of the Caribbean islands as well as North America. Now sloths spend their time in trees of rainforests of Central and South America. In some places, they make up 70% of the biomass of arboreal mammals.

The Sloth Institute, located in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, focuses on the research, education, and release of hand-raised and injured sloths back to the rainforest. You can symbolically adopt a sloth, to help orphaned and injured sloths return back to the rainforest where they belong.

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Why are sloths so slow?

Sloths just aren’t built for speed and their main food source, leaves, provides very little energy or even nutrients. Their metabolism adapted to this leaf diet by digesting it very slowly and in fact, no other mammal digests its food as slowly.

Sloths only move with speed of up to 40 yards per day which I can relate to at times (I think we all can at this point – looking at you COVID).

Sloth’s muscles make up only 25 to 30 percent of their total body weight compared to 40 percent in most other mammals. When they do make their way to the ground, they’re extremely slow because they have to drag themselves since they can’t walk – their hands and feet have long, curved claws that are good for hanging upside down but suck for anything else.

Do sloths have chlamydia?

Sloths do not carry chlamydia but their fur is home to a range of fungi and other microbes. Their fur hair is folded in half which is a perfect environment for said fungi. No one knows what’s the point in hosting so many of these microbes that turn the sloth’s fur into green. But that just might be the clue as scientists think that it’s helping them camouflage with the canopy. It’s hard for their predators to distinguish them from the environment.

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Are sloths aggressive?

Sloths seem mellow and they are for most of the time, but if they feel threatened, they are going to viciously defend themselves with their powerful claws. This is particularly troublesome for rescue workers like firefighters that have to remove them when they venture into urban areas. Sloths are known to hang from cables and stuff which is of course dangerous to them. That’s when they have to be brought down to be released into the wild.

The majority of sloth deaths in Costa Rica are due to contact with electrical lines and poachers.

Sloth on the ground
Sloth on the ground

Can sloths jump?

Sloths can do one thing and one thing only, and that’s to relentlessly hang from trees and tree branches to the point that they might not fall to the ground even when someone shoots them. They can’t run (or walk for that matter), they can’t see good, can’t hear good, they only poop once per week (and that puts them in grave danger), and they most certainly can’t jump.

Do sloths have ears?

Although it doesn’t look like it at first, sloths do have ears but they’re covered by fur so you can only see them if you pull their fur apart. Their ears are small and they can’t hear that well with them.