9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Sloths

The Mysterious Bathroom Habits Of The Sloth

Sloth on Ground

Photo credit: Witoki

Animal defecation is not generally a topic to set the heart racing. Scientists, however, are another breed. It turns out that there is a mystery at the heart of how sloths use the bathroom.

We have seen the lengths to which sloths go to hide from predators. They are creatures honed by evolution to live and feed in trees. Yet, once a week, they descend from their tree to defecate. This lengthy process leaves them utterly at the mercy of passing predators. Why do they do this dangerous activity when they could simply let their droppings drop from the trees?


One solution that has recently been suggested involves sloths, their algae, and moths. This may not be the most alluring threesome, but it’s one that works for sloths. The Cryptoses choloepi moth lives exclusively on sloths and lays its eggs exclusively in sloth droppings. The moth itself defecates on the sloth, which feeds the algae living there. So the moths and algae benefit, but why does the sloth go along with this somewhat distasteful business? Because sloth diets lack variety, they eat the algae and other things living on their body to gain nutrients. Farmers have a reputation for hard graft, and the sloth is no exception.

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