Hang around, this sloth might take awhile.
Take your time, just like the sloth. This week, Nature in Focus looks at Costa Rica’s famous resident.
Costa Rica is home to a surprising number of exotic flora and fauna. As mentioned previously in ‘Nature In Focus’, the number of unique landscapes, tropical rainforests, and keystone species that inhabit the tiny costal paradise is – put simply: astounding. In this week’s Nature In Focus, we take you back to Costa Rica and we shine the spotlight on the Sloth populations of Costa Rica, so hang around.
Costa Rica is home to two species of Sloth – Bradypus variegatus and Choleopus hoffmanni – the Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth and Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth respectively. These crazy looking creatures spend most of their lives sleeping and hanging upside down. Not only that, but they eat, mate, and give birth, all while hanging upside down.
Now, whether you are trekking through the jungle on our ‘Costa Rica At Your Own Pace’ trip or making your way through the Manuel Antonio rainforest on our ‘Discovering Costa Rica’ package, your chances of spotting one of these Sloths is actually fairly high. Counter-intuitively, and as a direct result of habitat fragmentation, the Sloths in Costa Rica have experienced somewhat of a ‘boom’ because many of their predators have been unfortunately eliminated or relocated, leaving this slow-motion creature to prosper.
Slowly and lazily moving up to 37m per day through the tops of the dense and lush rainforest canopy, Sloths will climb down to the bottom of their roosting trees once a week to defecate, and that is about the only reason you would find a Sloth on the ground. Oddly and interestingly, the Sloth is also a great swimmer and can be seen from time-to-time taking a dip in a rainforest lake, sometimes even dropping straight into the water from way up high in the rainforest canopy. Fascinatingly, the Sloth swims faster than when it travels on land!
Sloths are some of the weirdest looking mammals in the world. Additionally, Sloths are known to produce a weird combination of algae and moss that live in its fur. In fact, Sloths are known to fertilize the moss and algae with their own feces! Some scientists now believe that Sloth’s fur could provide cancer treatments and some say Sloth fur fungi is the future of cancer research and treatment. In recent studies, scientists collected fungi from Sloth fur and found that it has active compounds that can be used against Malaria, Chagas Disease, and human breast cancer.
While these Sloths of Costa Rica are doing relatively well, the Pigmy Sloth of Panama is currently listed as ‘Critically Endangered’. Due to human activity including habitat fragmentation, resort and hotel development, and land-use issues arising from fishermen – the Pigmy Sloth has seen better times.
If you are interested in finding out more about these extremely unique mammals or want a chance to encounter one while hiking through the rainforests of Costa Rica, check out:
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