Imagine living your entire life upside down. Sounds impossible? Well, it is not impossible for a sloth.

The sloth is a mammal which lives in South America. It spends most of its life on trees in an upside down position.

Unbelievable, but true. Sloths eat, sleep, make babies and even give birth to their young ones in this position! But, don’t they fall off when they fall asleep, one might wonder. They don’t.

A Sloth hanging upside down on the tree
A Sloth hanging upside down on the tree

That’s because the sloth’s muscles do not relax like ours do when we are sleeping. If they did, the sloth would fall off the tree. The muscles become fixed and relax only when the animal awakens.

Sloths move about tree tops very slowly. They use their hooked claws of both their toes and fingers to hold on to the trees.

What is interesting about the sloth is that its body is made to suit this inverted lifestyle. It can actually turn its head round completely so that it does not see things inverted. And, its hair grows in a direction opposite to that of most other animals we know. It runs from the sloth’s belly round to its back. This ensures that rain water runs off its back.

It has a blunt nose and peg-like teeth. It has no tail. It eats leaves, buds and fresh twigs of trees.

Does a Sloth live its entire life upside down?
Does a Sloth live its entire life upside down?

If you want to see a sloth, it will be very difficult to spot one. Sloths have green algae on their hair. As a result, they merge with the surroundings and look almost like a part of the tree. This helps them keep predators away.

There are two main species of sloths. The Unau sloth and the Ai sloth. While the Unau sloth has two toes on the front feet, the Ai sloth has three.

Another creature which spends a large part of its life upside down is the bat.

329 words | 3 minutes
Readability: Grade 5 (10-11 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: planet earth
Tags: #trees, #muscles

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