Sloths are known for their incredibly slow-moving natures, but it turns out that such sluggishness also carries over into their bathroom habits. So much so that they only defecate every five to seven days on average, and actually lose up to one-third of their body weight in a single movement! The stool is pushed out in one fell swoop so impressive that horrified/transfixed bystanders can see the animal's stomach shrink.
"If you've ever seen a sloth poo you could only ever describe it as PURE BLISS! They tip their heads back and smile!" emails Sarah Kennedy, co-founder of The Sloth Conservation Foundation, based in the U.K.
The week-long delay between bowel movements is not even the strangest thing about sloth pooping habits. You see, sloths are arboreal creatures, which means that they live, work and play high up in the trees. Their chosen habitats are the rain and cloud forests of Central and South America. Most other arboreal animals, like monkeys, poop from the trees, but not sloths. Instead they "make the slow descent to the canopy to poo at the base of trees," Kennedy says. Sloths do this despite the fact that it's quite perilous. "This behaviour puts them at threat to a lot of predators (like jungle cats) and wastes a lot of their precious energy — which they do not have much of!" she adds. More than half of all sloth deaths occur during potty time when these creatures are very vulnerable to predators.
"A sloth's entire lifestyle is based around avoiding detection and using as little energy as possible," writes zoologist and Sloth Conservation Foundation founder Becky Cliffe in a blog post. "It takes a sloth an entire month to digest just one leaf, meaning that they don't have much wiggle room when it comes to expending energy."