Skip To Content
  • Slothsgiving badge

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sloths But Were Afraid To Ask

I visited real sloths at the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica just so that I could finally have some answers...

Q: What do sloths smell like?

A: Sloths have no real natural body odor, which helps hide and protect them from potential predators. As a result, their natural smell is a projection of whatever you're feeling at the moment you encounter one. Given that you're meeting a sloth, that feeling is generally joy, excitement, warmth, and love. What do those feelings smell like, you ask? Like laundry, watermelon rind, the top of a baby's head, boiling water, and fresh cut grass all mixed together.

Q: What's the difference between two-fingered and three-fingered sloths?

A: Two-fingered sloths have two fingers, and three-fingered sloths have three fingers. Some people think their fingers are toes or claws, but they're actually finger bones. The other differences include:

- three-fingered sloths are pickier eaters, two-fingered sloths will eat anything.

- three-fingered sloths always look like they're happy, two-fingered sloths also always look happy but, like, slightly less so, like maybe there's something bothering them in the back of their minds.

- three-fingered sloths prefer Paul, while two-fingered sloths prefer John.

Q: Are sloths lazy?

A: Sloths have low metabolisms, so they have to move slowly in order to conserve energy. However, they aren't aimless or "lazy" and they actually move around quite a lot — just very, very slowly. Every move a sloth makes is with purpose, which is more than most of us can say about 90% of the time.

Q: Why do sloths always look like they're smiling?

A: Because they know something we don't.

Q: What's the deal with giant sloths?

A: Giant ground sloths lived in South America up until approximately 10,000 years ago. They weighed up to four tons and measured 20 ft from head to tail. CAN YOU IMAGINE walking through the rainforest and happening upon a 20 foot tall sloth? Me neither.

Q: What's the point of sloths in the ecosystem?

A: Sloths actually are like furry living ecosystems all by themselves! Algae grows on their fur and they are also home to "sloth moths" who call them home and drink their tears. But even more broadly, the point of sloths is to bring a sense of wonder, magic, and happiness to all other species. Did you know that every other animal's favorite animal is the sloth? Well... almost every animal — dogs' favorite animal is people, obviously.

Q: What does sloth fur feel like?

A: Like a soft hairbrush.

Q: Do sloths like being held?

A: Because sloths' metabolisms are so slow, they don't exhibit many external signs of stress and it can be hard to determine their mood. Being held by an endless stream of strangers doesn't seem like it would be fun for anyone, though, so the Sloth Sanctuary doesn't allow it. That said, a sloth once whispered in my ear and told me that when he is clinging to branches he closes his eyes and imagines that he's still a baby holding on to his mama. So, like people, sloths like being held but only by someone they love.

Q: Are sloths monkeys?

A: Nope. Sloths aren't really closely related to anyone — their closest relatives are anteaters, and anyone who's ever met an anteater can tell you that they won't even admit that they have anything to do with sloths.

Q: Why are people so obsessed with sloths, anyway?

A: You need to think about your life.