Why are Sloths Slow?

 Earth is a busy planet bustling with life, so what good could moving slowly all of the time be for any animal? For the sloth, it might actually be a survival tactic.

The three-toed sloth is the slowest mammal on the planet. On average they move 41 yards per day. That is less than half the length of a football field (World Wildlife Fund). The average human can walk 3.1 miles per hour in comparison.

 Sloths have a diet of mostly leaves and a slow metabolism. Sloths digest these leaves for a very long time. Since their diet is low in calories, these animals must conserve their energy for only the most important things. According to beckycliffe.com, some scientists estimate sloths can go up to fifty days without going to the bathroom! 

An illustration of a sloth hanging on a tree branch.
An illustration of a sloth hanging on a tree branch by Ava Ditzel.

The disadvantage of being so slow is that they cannot flee from predators, so they hide and stay still instead. Jaguars, large snakes, and harpy eagles mostly eat them. However, poachers are their biggest threat.

Sloths have a talent for swimming too. They will climb down and doggy paddle to find mates sometimes. 

Sloths are not lazy; they are smart! In this case “slow and steady wins the race.”



  1. Cliffe, Becky. “Why Are Sloths so Slow?” Becky Cliffe, January 19, 2016. http://beckycliffe.com/sloths-slow/.
  2. “Why Are Sloths Slow? And Six Other Sloth Facts.” WWF. World Wildlife Fund. Accessed December 27, 2019. https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/why-are-sloths-slow-and-six-other-sloth-facts.
  3. “Single Swimming Sloth Looking for Love.” YouTube. YouTube, November 24, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq3SfwbfXkY.
  4. “What Animals Eat Sloths?” Reference. IAC Publishing. Accessed January 2, 2020. https://www.reference.com/pets-animals/animals-eat-sloths-ee02af47fa7849ac.




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