MAY 26, 2017 11:54 AM PDT

Why Sloths Live Life in Slo-Mo

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The sloth is the only animal to be named after one of the seven deadly sins. The animal seems to embody all that is slow, idle, and lazy. But why have these animals evolved to be so sluggish and seemingly disinterested in life?

Sloths are slow by biological constraints. Their metabolism is extremely low - so low that they can burn just 110 calories a day and be just fine. In fact, sloths win the award for having the lowest measured energy output for any mammal. That means the average sloth moves a whopping 41 yards a day, less than the half length of a football field. Some animals move so little that algae can grow on their fur.

The low metabolic rate and energy expenditure allow sloths to subsist on just leaves, twigs, and buds. And when it's not eating, the animal is most likely sleeping - the animal sleeps for about 15 hours every day.

Watch the video to learn more. And next time, don't be so quick to judge a sloth by its speed!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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