Weekly Dose of Cute: Baby Sloth

Animals don't have to be adorable adults to be cute when they're kids. A classic example, as pointed out by my favorite French blogger (who also happens to have a fascination with parasites), is the sloth. As adults they're underwhelming in the cuddle department (unless you're a weirdo like me who thinks just about everything is cute). But as babies they're just darned adorable!

Like their name suggests, the six living species of sloths which live exclusively in Central and South America tend to be slow-moving, even to the point of seeming lazy. But that lack of energy isn't without purpose. Sloths live off of a diet of mostly leaves and shoots - which are poor sources of energy. To compensate, sloths have a much lower metabolic rate than most animals. Their metabolic rate is so low, in fact, that it's less than half of what we'd expect for their size. This allows them to survive on far less dietary energy. It's too expensive to be quick moving, and so sloths are slow and cautious. Because they blend in well with their environments and move so little, they're rarely prey to other species, though they will occasionally be eaten by hawks or jaguars, especially if they have to leave their homey trees to venture on the dangerous forest floor. Babies cling tight to their moms, and are so durable they usually survive if they lose their grip. The only problem is that momma sloths are very reluctant to climb down to get their fallen youngsters, so these cuties must hang on to make sure they don't get left behind!

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