10 Facts You Need To Know About Sloths Before You Visit Costa Rica

Sloths are some of the most fascinating animals on the planet, and here in Manuel Antonio we have no shortage of them! You can see 2 different species of sloth, the 2-toed and 3-toed variety, in any given tree all around the area. In fact, here at Pacifico Colonial we have what we like to call our “resident sloth”, who spends tons of time in his favorite tree located right outside of our balconies. You can often see him hanging from a branch or munching on leaves while you’re swimming in our luxurious infinity pool. Here are a few fun facts about sloths I bet you didn’t know:

  1. Sloths can live up to 40 years old.
  2. 3-toed sloths have an extra neck vertebra that allows them to turn their heads almost all the way around (about 270 degrees).
  3. Sloths are among the most common rainforest mammals and are extremely successful in their environment. If you keep your eyes open and look up, you are very likely to spot one during your vacation in Costa Rica!
  4. Costa Rica has the world’s only sloth orphanage, with a sick bay named “the slothspital”.
  5. When a female sloth is ready to mate, she will scream out loud. Once she finds a partner (or the partner finds her), it only takes about 5 seconds to do the deed.
  6. The common ancestor of both the three and two-toed sloths was a gigantic ground sloth about the size of a modern-day elephant.
  7. Baby sloths learn what to eat by licking the lips of their mother.
  8. Sloths have extremely slow metabolisms—the slowest of any mammal—and digestion can take over a month. This is why they only defecate once a week. They can also slow down their metabolism even more when swimming, which allows them to hold their breath for up to 40 minutes.
  9. Many people wish for a sloth as a pet. Sloths are not as cuddly as they look, however: their fur hosts multiple species of algae, beetles, moths and other insects. They thrive on this symbiotic relationship and would be quite unhappy receiving baths or living in a sanitized environment (rather than a rainforest tree). Additionally, sloths have trouble staying warm anywhere outside of their tropical homes. They cannot shiver, and depend heavily on the equatorial sun and year-round warmth to stay alive. A pet sloth sounds like a lovely idea but in reality, it is not very practical.
  10. Sloths are related to anteaters and, like their cousins, also have very long tongues. Their tongues can measure 12-15 inches!