|Two toed sloth|
There are 2 types of sloths on this rainforest island in the Panama Canal. You can easily tell them apart by their coloration and how many claws they have on their front legs. Sloths dig their long sharp claws into a branch to hold on while they are hanging upside down in the canopy layer of the rainforest. Three-toed sloths have the slowest digestive rate of all mammals and they also have a very slow metabolism. Sloths live in a mutualistic situation with algae and moths. Both of these live in sloth fur. The algae supplies both green camouflage coloration and a food source for the sloth who scrapes the algae off its fur with its claws and eats it. The algae benefits by having a constant supply of water and exposure to some sunshine for photosynthesis.
|Three toed sloth|
Fur of the three-toed sloth is adapted for holding rainwater in crosswise grooves. Moths also live in sloth fur. These moths require that the three-toed sloth come down to the ground to poop. Mother moths from the sloth lay their eggs on the sloth poop and the larvae hatch on the poop and eat it. When the larvae go through metamorphosis and become adults, the adults fly back into the sloth fur. Moths supply a necessary element (nitrogen) to sloths and sloths make it possible for moths to complete their life cycle. This is another example of mutualism.
If you want to read more about sloths, here are four interesting links for you:
- Fran Zakutansky