Are you looking for fun sloth facts for kids to share in your primary classroom? Maybe you’re getting ready for National Simultaneous Storytime (the featured book is about a sloth!), or maybe you’re simply teaching about the tropical rainforest ecosystem and the animals that live there. Either way, the sloth has gained popularity in recent years and is it’s a great way to get kids excited about science!
The teachers on the Teach Starter team have put together some of our favourite sloth facts that you can use when teaching students about behavioural or physical adaptations, animal characteristics, and more. Read on to find out why the sloth does a ‘poop dance,’ how they survive predators and how long they really sleep.
Fun Sloth Facts
1. Sloths can turn their heads 270 degrees thanks to extra vertebrae in their backs. This is an animal adaptation that makes it easier for a sloth to survive. They can watch out for predators without having to move their bodies.
2. There are actually two types of sloths — the two-toed sloth and the three-toed sloth.
3. When it comes to baby animals, we know baby cats are called kittens, and baby dogs are called puppies, but baby sloths don’t really have their own special name. Some sloth experts like to call them ‘slowbies.’
4. Baby sloths (slowbies!) are born with their eyes open and already fully functioning! They’re also born with all of their teeth. Ouch!
5. Sloths move so slowly that algae often grows on their fur. It’s why their fur looks a little green instead of brown.
6. Sloths only poop once a week, and after they do, they do a ‘poop dance,’ wiggling around at the base of a tree to dig a hole for their poop.
7. Have you heard that sloths sleep for 20 hours a day? That’s a myth! Wild sloths only sleep for about 8 to 10 hours each day, about the same as humans.
8. Sloths are very strong — some are three times stronger than an average human.
9. It can take up to 30 days for a three-fingered sloth to digest just one leaf.
10. Sloths are a type of mammal called an ‘arboreal mammal.’ That means they have adapted to living in trees, just like the tree-kangaroo! The sloth’s long, curved claws and their slow movements are some of the adaptations they’ve made to fit into their environment.
11. Sloths can survive falling as much as 27 metres from high up in a tree!
12. Some species of sloths have a special tail that can wrap around tree branches for support while climbing and moving. It’s sort of like having an extra arm or leg.
13. The sloth only moves about 36 metres per day, and it usually stays up in the Amazon rainforest canopy even when moving.
14. Just one sloth can have up to 950 moths and beetles living in its fur. Don’t worry! These aren’t parasites. When one animal lives on another animal in this way, it’s called symbiosis.
15. Most sloths are omnivores. They will eat plants, small lizards, fruit, insects and plenty more!
16. A sloth’s belly is almost always full, and the food in there makes up as much as 2/3 of the sloth’s entire body weight.
17. In addition to drinking their mother’s milk, baby sloths start eating leaves as young as 1 week old.
18. Three-fingered sloths have very long arms. Their arms are twice as long as their legs!
19. Sloth tails are very short — just 6 to 7 cm long.
20. Sloths always look like they are smiling, even when they’re being hurt or feeling afraid.