Children's Author Bonnie Lee | Children's Books | Educational Children's Books
(Megalonychidae (two-toed sloths) & Bradypodidae (three-toed sloths)
Sloths belong to one of two families, known as the Megalonychidae (“two-toed” sloths) and the Bradypodidae (three-toed sloths). All sloths have three toes; the “two-toed” sloths, however, have only two fingers. Two-toed sloths are generally faster moving than three-toed sloths. Both sloth types tend to occupy the same forests.
Sloths live in the tropical rain forest of Costa Rica. They hang upside down, clinging to the tree limbs with their toes or claws.
Sloths can sleep around ten hours per day, and the other time is spent eating mostly tender shoots and leaves of the Cecropia trees. These leaves provide very little energy and do not digest easily, therefore, the Sloth has a large, specialized slow acting stomach with multiple compartments in which symbiotic bacteria break down the tough leaves, and the digestive process can take a month or longer.
The sloth has a very slow metabolic rate and maintains low body temperatures, around 86-93 degrees F.
Sloth furs exhibit specialized functions: the outer hairs grow in a direction opposite from that of other mammals. In most mammals hairs grow toward the extremities, but because sloths spend so much time upside down, their hairs grow away from the extremities in order to provide protection from the elements while the sloth hangs upside down.
Sloths have short, flat heads; big eyes; a short snout; long legs; and tiny ears, stubby tails, usually 6–7 cm long. Altogether, sloths’ bodies usually are anywhere between 50 and 60 cm long and weigh around 8.75 pounds. The average lifespan is somewhere around 20 years; although there have been 40 year old sloths.
Sloths climb down to the ground about once a week to urinate and defecate, and go to the same spot all the time, where the sloths seem to find each other for breeding purposes. Sloths go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week, digging a hole and covering it afterwards. They go to the same spot each time and are vulnerable to predation while doing so.
Sometimes the sloths’ low level of movement actually keeps females from finding males for longer than one year.
They also mate while hanging. Females normally bear one baby every year. Mother sloths give birth to their babies upside down. Infant sloths normally cling to their mother’s fur. But they sometimes fall, it’s not the fall what kills them, it’s because the mothers don’t go down to get them back.
Sloths’ claws serve as their only natural defense. A cornered sloth may swipe at its attackers in an effort to scare them away or wound them. Despite sloths’ apparent defenselessness, predators do not pose special problems: sloths blend in with the trees and, moving only slowly, do not attract attention. Only during their infrequent visits to ground level do they become vulnerable.
The main predators of sloths are the jaguar, the harpy eagle, and humans. The majority of recorded sloth deaths in Costa Rica are due to contact with electrical lines and poachers.
Sloths are very slow creatures on land, but are very competent and fast swimmers under the water. When do they go into the water? If and when they want to – that’s up to each individual sloth.
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
Koalas are marsupials, related to kangaroos. Koalas and most other marsupials live in Australia and neighboring islands. The word koala may come from an Aboriginal word meaning no drink. Although koalas do drink when necessary, they obtain most of the moisture they need from leaves.
Most marsupials have pouches where the tiny newborns develop. A koala mother usually gives birth to one joey at a time.
A female koala is pregnant for only 35 days before giving birth; most of the joey’s growth and development takes place in the mother’s pouch.
Once a newborn koala latches onto a nipple in its mother’s pouch, the nipple swells in its mouth so the joey can’t be separated from its food source.
Koalas have thick woolly fur that protects them from both heat and cold. It also acts like a raincoat.
Koalas have thick, grayish fur, with white on their chests, inner arms, and ears. They have large furry ears and leathery noses. Mature males have brown scent glands in the center of their white chests. They rub these on their home trees to mark their territory.
Koalas live in trees, sometimes coming down to the ground to seek shade or another tree. They occasionally jump from one tree to the next. In an ideal habitat in the wild, male koalas live about 10 years, while females may live a few years longer.
Koalas are found in the wild only in the forests of eastern Australia.
Koalas live in bushland with other koalas. Each has its own home trees which are generally not visited by other koalas except in mating season.
Koalas have their own built-in cushion! The fur on a koala’s bottom is extra thick so that the koala can comfortably rest in trees.
Koalas spend as many as 18-20 hours a day napping and resting.
Though koalas look like teddy bears and are sometimes even referred to as koala bears, they are not bears.
Koalas smell like cough drops because of their diet of here are many kinds of eucalyptus trees. Koalas will eat from only a few of these; a koala can eat 2 1/2 pounds of eucalyptus leaves a day.
A koala’s territory is up to 100 trees.