If you’re wild for wildlife, you should consider going to Costa Rica (don’t forget your travel insurance). It’s home to over half a million different animal species making it one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.
With so many wild animals it would be hard to pick a favourite, but my vote goes to the most iconic Costa Rican critter, the sloth! Home to two different sloth species, Costa Rica is considered the best place in the Americas to “hang out” with these laid back animals.
If you want to spot the Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth you’ll need to take a night hike, because during the day it’s the Brown-throated Sloth which is most active – although when I say active, don’t expect to see them racing through the jungle. Sloths are notoriously lazy, clocking up an average daily distance of around only 30 metres – that’s about 40 human steps (which is probably the same distance I manage on a Sunday…)
There is a reason why sloths are considered the slowest animals in the world – every part of them has evolved to conserve as much energy as possible. Rather than eat more calories, sloths have evolved to do less. Even digesting a meal can take up to a month, which means they only have to poop once a week – so they’ve got to make every movement count!
So how does an animal so slow protect itself from predators? Well, as it happens, partly by being so slow. Moving through the treetops at an incredible 0.003 miles per hour, sloths are so slow that they are hard for predators to spot. It’s also helpful that their fur is host to a range of algae, fungi, moths and mites creating its own ecosystem which helps them to blend in with the surrounding foliage.
Now in the time that it’s taken for you to read this post, there’s a sloth somewhere in Costa Rica that has travelled about 5cm – so next time you’re stuck in traffic, spare a thought for the world’s slowest animal who makes a commute in rush hour traffic seem as speedy as the Grand Prix!