International Sloth Day is celebrated across the world on 20 October to recognise the important role the animal plays in the complex ecosystem. According to scientists, among the overall mammals living in a healthy tropical forest, the percentage of sloths should be significant (in terms of biomass).
Significance and importance of sloths and International Sloth Day:
Like the herbivores of the savannah, sloths are the grazers of tropical ecosystems, playing an important role in the cycling of resources throughout the forest. Having successfully survived on planet Earth for almost 64 million years they form an important part of the food chain for ocelots, jaguars and harpy eagles.
Protecting sloths and the habitat in which they live ultimately benefits a whole host of other species, from poison dart frogs to Great Green Macaws. Not all species, such as velvet worms, receive the same kind of attention and love that sloths receive. Conserving sloths leads to the protection of these lesser known species and the preservation of the beautifully complex ecosystems they are a part of.
In addition to keeping the forests healthy, sloths inspire us to slow down. They are a valuable antidote to fast-paced digital world we live in. Like the classic story of the tortoise versus the hare, sloths are living examples that there are many ways to be “successful” in this world.
Facts related to sloths:
Currently, there are six extant species of sloths, divided into two groups on the basis of their front limbs - two-toed and three-toed. Among these, two-toed sloths are said to be larger.
Sloths are slow-moving mammals but they can swim. They have the ability to stay underwater and breathe for around 40 minutes.
These mammals can sleep for 15-20 hours per day and they can live for a period of 6 months to 40 years.
As per World Animal Protection, sloths spend most of their time hanging upside down. This is due to various physiological adaptations that prevent them from pushing down on the diaphragm and bearing the weight of their internal organs. Interestingly, their breathing doesn’t get affected by hanging upside down.