People and animals often get judged at first glance. First impressions often follow us around for a lifetime. I'm often guilty of the same thing, but I have been trying to make a real effort to take that deep look at a person or animal. A wise lady once told me, "the greatest complement you can give someone is getting to know them." This was a few years ago, at the time I kinda laughed those words off as the ramblings of a lonely older lady, but she was right.
One animal who doesn't get the respect it deserves is the Sloth. This animal moves extremely slow, is very helpless if ever on the ground, overall not impressive looking. But, the Sloth is actually extremely well adapted for its lifestyle. Sloths come in two varieties, two-toed and three-toed. They spend so much time hanging upside down, with their legs above their bodies, their hairs grow away from the extremities, the opposite of other mammals, in order to provide protection from the elements. In moist conditions, the fur hosts two species of symbiotic cyanobacteria, which serves two benefits for the Sloth. It gives the fur a green tinge which help camouflage the Sloth. The bacteria also provides nutrients to the Sloth, who will lick them off the fur. Their claws are razor sharp and are curved to make ideal attachments on a tree limb, it's like having super strong coat hangers growing out of your arms. If a predator catches sight of a Sloth, these claws make good deterrents. Picture a heavy predator trying to walk out on a limb to make a Sloth into a snack, already the predator is very unstable but in addition they also have to dodge a grumpy Sloth with dagger claws, it's typically not worth it to snag the Sloth up in a tree. A Sloth lives in a single tree most of its life and only comes down once a week to use the restroom. The Sloth likes to dig a small hole at the base of its tree for its privy, therefore fertilizes his own tree. A defining feature of the Sloth is also how it got it's name, it is incredibly slow. This has many reasons, first off, the Sloth fur already blends in nicely with the trees and green bark, you move nice a slow so you literally look "one with the tree". Second reason for their snail like speed is it uses much less energy. Great bursts of speed use up lots of energy and calories. It is very hard to consume mass amounts of nutrients from plants alone, much more work than meat. So a Sloth is a master conservationist for calories!
I'm sure the Sloth has even more abilities that people have yet to discover, but the important point is always keeping an open mind when seeing something you don't understand. Their is reason that creature was created that way. As humans it is our job to not be judgemental and to take the advice of an 80 yr old lady and get to know them. I assure you it wont be time wasted.
Thanks for reading,