S is for Sloth
This little guy is a pygmy sloth. These are the smallest (and cutest?) species of three-fingered sloth and can only be found on a remote, uninhabited island off the coast of Panama. They were only identified as a new species in 2001.
They are thought to be approximately 40% smaller than their mainland counterparts and although the population size remains unknown, these little sloths are considered to be one of the most critically endangered mammals in the world. They average around 3 Kg in weight and are approximately 24 inches long, looking very similar to the brown-throated sloth.
All sloths are built for life in the treetops. They spend nearly all of their time aloft, hanging from branches with a powerful grip aided by their long claws. Sloths even sleep in trees, and they sleep a lot—some 15 to 20 hours every day. Even when awake they often remain motionless. At night they eat leaves, shoots, and fruit from the trees and get almost all of their water from juicy plants.
On land, sloths' weak hind legs provide no power and their long claws are a hindrance. They must dig into the earth with their front claws and use their strong front legs to pull themselves along, dragging their bellies across the ground. If caught on land, these animals have no chance to evade predators, such as big cats, and must try to defend themselves by clawing and biting.
Though they couldn't be clumsier on land, sloths are surprisingly good swimmers. They sometimes fall directly from rain forest trees into rivers and stroke efficiently with their long arms.
The health of sloth populations is wholly dependent on the health of tropical rain forests but tropical rain forests are at risk of deforestation. Without an abundance of trees, sloths will lose their shelter and food source.