Sloths are 2-toed and 3-toed animals that have a varying dietary behavior. The 2-toed specie is more varied, feeding on leaves and fruits, while the 3-toed, which is much smaller and slower than the 2-toed specie, is both diurnal and nocturnal (eats mostly at night). It is a highly specialized browser, feeding mostly on leaves. All sloths have three claws on their hind limbs and are more closely related to anteaters than armadillos. Adult sloths usually have 10 upper teeth and 8 lower teeth. These animals are tremendously slow mammals and found in the American rainforest. They also have a large tongue, slow metabolic rate meaning they can survive on a small amount of nourishment. Here is a detailed look at their eating habits.
A Sloths Diet Consists Mainly of Leaves
Sloths are generalized as folivores or herbivores; they will eat leaves, buds, twigs, fruits and occasionally, insects and rodents. They can however feed from over 50 different types of tree in the American tropical rainforest, but the cecropia tree species is their favorite. This is a fast growing tree that provides buds and juicy leaves for sloths.
However, the cecropia tree has a relationship with the Azteca ants, which live inside it and take food from it and also protecting the tree from strangers including sloths. In the process of mulching on cecropia leaves, sloths ingest these ants. These mammals eat leaves in every position; put a leafy branch to its mouth and it will break it off and turn the branch to eat the leaves.
And Some Insects
While the cecropia tree is their most preferred source of food, it is well defended by ants, thus, the sloth will find other trees to eat from. In this process, they undoubtedly ingest various forms of insects including caterpillars and eggs. Additionally, the sloth diet might consist of ingesting small other insects such as fruit flies which are attracted to and captured by the fruits’ sweet thickness.
Two-Toed Sloths Eat Some Other Things Too
The 3-toed sloths diet is normally limited to the jungle foliage and attached bugs. The 2-toed sloth on the other hand, is not very picky to benefit from any sort of food that crosses its path. These sloths eat bird eggs and small mice and rats if they can catch them. Moreover, 2-toed sloths eat dry food, and a wide assortment of vegetables and fruits, with grapes in particular, their favorite.
And Of Course, They Need Water
Sloths, being mammals, need water in their body systems to survive. They don’t tend to drink water itself though. Instead, they mainly get their water from tree leaves they eat and remain self-sustained in this fashion for most parts of their lives, which has been approximated to be between 25-30 years in length.
Now you know the answer to the pressing question of “what does a sloth eat?”