Mammal Stereotypes - Sloths - 34 - Page 1

Lazy, one of the seven deadly sins, lively and fast-talking

Sloths are medium-sized mammals belonging to the families Megalonychidae (two-toed sloth) and Bradypodidae (three-toed sloth), classified into six species. Extant sloths are arboreal (tree-dwelling) residents of the jungles of Central and South America, and are known for being slow-moving, and hence named "sloths."

Since leaves provide little energy, sloths deal with this by a range of economy measures: they have very low metabolic rates (less than half of that expected for a mammal of their size), and maintain low body temperatures when active (30-34°C or 86-93°F), and still lower temperatures when resting. Sloths' claws serve as their only natural defense. A cornered sloth may swipe at its attackers in an effort to scare them away or wound them. Despite sloths' apparent defenselessness, predators do not pose special problems: sloths blend in with the trees and, moving only slowly, do not attract attention.

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