When I first started playing scrabble, I wanted to learn all the two-letter words. To make them easier to remember, it was helpful to know what they meant. One of my favourite words is ‘ai’ – because it means a three-toed sloth, one of my favourite animals.
Did you know that as well as a three-toed sloth, there is also a two-toed sloth? You might think the difference between them is obvious, but it’s not – both sloths have three toes. The difference is in the number of fingers so, strictly-speaking, they are known as three-fingered and two-fingered sloths – but who’s counting?!
There are other differences between them too – three-toed sloths are very good swimmers (as you will know if you watched Planet Earth II recently – see below). In addition to being agile swimmers, they are active during the day whereas two-toed sloths are nocturnal.
Sloths live in treetops and rarely leave the canopies. They make their way to the forest floor around once a week to have a poo, and this is when they are most vulnerable. Their fur gets covered in algae and, when they are high above, they can easily be mistaken for a clump of leaves – especially as they don’t move fast. Their average speed is a rather leisurely 0.15mph.
How many other animals do you know from South America? Test yourself in our enjoyable nature quiz on the subject and see if you can get all ten questions correct. You may find the sloth amongst them.
Have you been watching Planet Earth II? The first episode features a sloth. If you haven’t had a chance, it’s still available on BBC iPlayer – well worth a look.