My Adventure with a Sloth

I’m not even sure I knew what a Sloth was until I became an adult. Maybe even an “older” adult.  I don’t remember studying this fascinating creature in any of my school science classes, and I certainly never saw one at a zoo.  But once I knew they existed,  I became intrigued with them.  (I even created a digital scrapbook kit, “Take Time to Relax,” centered about them.)

Did you know?

  • Sloths inhabit the lowland tropical forests of South and Central America.
  • They spend most of their time high in the forest trees, either sunning, resting, or feeding on leaves.
  • They are related to armadillos and anteaters.
  • Sloths have tiny tails, peg-like teeth, elongated “arms” and super-long, curved claws.
  • They move very slowly due to their low metabolic rate, and primarily hang horizontally from branches using their long hook-like “arms” and “legs.”
  • Sloths are excellent swimmers, which is surprising given their slow pace on land.
  • They have large multi-chambered stomachs and digest food slowly, sometimes taking up to a week to process a meal. And, yep, that means they only need to leave the tree tops about once a week to go “to the bathroom,” which they do on the ground.

Last week my husband and I visited the Daniel Johnson’s Monkey & Sloth Hangout in Roatan, Honduras. I had been looking forward to that visit for months because I knew I would be able not only to see a sloth but would also able to hold one.

I was surprised to learn that the sloths at the Hangout are not kept in cages or fenced-in areas. They just (literally) hang around in the trees at the Hangout and don’t leave.

We were with a group of tourists, and we each had a chance to interact with a sloth. The Trainers advised us to stand very still and put one palm on top of the other palm, facing upward, with our elbows extended. The Trainer then put the sloth’s “arms” on our shoulder and his bottom rested on our hands. As much I wanted to pet and cuddle with “my” sloth, I was advised that sloths don’t like to be petted. 🙁

I had the opportunity to hold a male sloth. One way to distinguish between male and female sloths is by the presence of the shaved-looking area on the back of the males. This patch is slightly orange in color, with a dark brown stripe running through its center. The male sloth secretes an odor from this area during mating season to attract potential female partners.

It was such a treat to see Sloths in their natural environment. To see them just relaxing in the trees, and when they got the urge, to s.l.o.w.l.y change position.

It was hot and humid the day we visited the Hangout, the type of weather that just makes me wilt. But Bob Bitchin’s quote kept running through my mind:

Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.

It didn’t matter that I was sweaty, red in the face, with wilting hair… this was an adventure of a lifetime for me.





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Comments (2)

  1. Renee Diprose

    So much fun! It’s too bad they don’t like being petted because they look like they should be, although their hair does look quite coarse.

    May 31, 2024 at 1:17 pm
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