It's time for the next installment in the Hot Critter series, which has brought you such wonders as the Neuse River Water Dog and the Star-Nosed mole. Today's hot critter is the Two-Toed Sloth.
As you may already know, a creature appearing here in Hot Critter means that said creature is about to get knitted up into a cuddly home version, which is as true as ever in this case. HWWLLB just had a big birthday, and one of his gifts was a knitted, stuffed and felted sloth - his very favorite animal (I'm almost done with knitting it).
So why would someone have a sloth as their favorite animal? Where to begin??
There aren't very many sloths in the world - in quantity or in variety. There are only two species of the two-toed sloth, Choloepus Didactylus, and Choloepus hoffmanni, and just four species of her cousin the three-toed sloth. Sloths are reclusive and prefer remote areas far from humans - which is easy to understand. Because sloths move so incredibly slowly, the can't run away from logging trucks or wildlife poachers, so with habitat destruction eating away at their homes in South America, the sloths are slowly disappearing (they do everything slowly).
Sloths spend their lives hanging in trees, thanks to their powerful claws. They are also pretty good swimmers, but if for some reason they hit the ground, they are extremely vulnerable. Those awesome hanging legs are near useless on land, where they are easy prey for large cats like jaguars and ocelots.
The sloth is solitary, and takes life very slowly. She spends all her days hanging in trees, sleeping as much as 15 to 20 hours per day, and eating mostly juicy plants. She sleeps, eats, mates, births and rears her young all while hanging upside-down from trees, and baby sloths hang onto their mothers for several months after birth.
Believe it or not, there isn't much more than this that the world knows about sloths, two-toed or three-toed. Because of their solitary nature and preference for remote areas, sloths have been severely under-studied. There are a few institutions who rehabilitate injured sloths and study their behavior and biology - the Avia Rios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, and the UNAU Foundation in Columbia are two examples, and they deserve our support.
It seems like it's time to revoke the sloth's "deadly sin" status - living a life of quiet solitude, practicing vegetarianism (mostly) and staying away from troublesome people - sloths are a lot more like Buddhist monks than degenerate sinners. If you admire the sloth too, watch this space for the forthcoming sloth softie and knitting pattern, which I am currently working on - slooowly.