Meet sloth- An animal who spends almost his whole life upside down

Sloth hanging from tree.

Slowness of movement is the sloth’s most outstanding characteristic.

In fact, the English word sloth comes from the word slow.

Indeed, to observe him is exactly like watching a movie scene in slow motion.

His home is in the branches of trees. And how marvelously he is equipped for life there!

Three strong toenails or claws extend from each of his four limbs, enabling him to hook into the wood of the tree.

Sloth hanging

He hangs beneath the branch, back downward, clinging with his claws to the branch above.

So he moves along upside down, slowly swinging Tarzan like from branch to branch.

Sloth spends almost his whole life upside down.

He even sleeps in that position, hanging onto the branch above with his hook-like claws.

Mating and giving birth also take place upside down.

So securely does he hold that position that he may even hang there for some time after he dies!

It is also most interesting to see Mamma Sloth taking little baby for a ride through the high branches of a tree.

It is a ‘piggyback’ ride the other way around, since Baby Sloth rides on Mamma’s tummy.

He hangs on tightly, as Mamma’s strong arms pull them both from branch to branch.

Baby is not afraid, but enjoys every moment.

Since he is so very slow, you may think that Sloth is without protection.

But he does have his claws, and he may use these when provoked.

Hanging by one hind leg, he can turn his body almost 360 degrees.

In this position he can strike out at enemies with both arms.

But he is generally mild-tempered.

One of his greatest protections against potential enemies is his general appearance.

First, he has a Mongoloid-type grin that is most appealing.

As he climbs, he continually turns his head like a pivot on his revolving neck, smiling benignly over each shoulder at any onlooker below.

This na├»ve ‘no-one-would-want-to-hurt-me’ look should at least have a somewhat disconcerting effect on any human enemy.

But his camouflaged appearance is also a great protection. He is covered with shaggy gray hair, which is much like bristle except that it is soft to the touch.

The gray is varied by lighter patches and a black streak up the back, with small black stripes across the face near the eyes.

These markings perfectly match gray tree trunks and branches. His slowness, of course, adds to the effect.

The result is that Sloth becomes almost invisible.

Remarking upon his ability seemingly to disappear in the branches of a tree, one observer related:

I stood under a tree, absolutely bare of leaves. Looking upward, I spent several minutes trying to locate a sloth. About to turn away, suddenly I was able to catch sight of one. Then another, and another. Finally I counted five of them hanging directly over my head! It was a cold day and each one had rolled himself into a tight ball, and was hanging by one arm from a limb of the tree, sound asleep. I had taken them for knotty bumps, part of the tree itself.”
Indeed, sloth is one of the many animals an animal lover would love to meet and observe in their natural habitat.