This week we celebrate International Sloth Day (20th October) with a mossy mate that will hang from almost anywhere.
Sloths are known for being a laid back mammal; feeding exclusively on leaves and moving rather slowly through the rainforest canopys of South and Central America.
What you might not know about sloths is that many species live in symbiosis (mutally beneficial relationship) with mosses and moths!
Living in a humid rainforest habitat is the perfect environment in which to keep a moss garden. The sloths do this in their fur, which gives them several advantages. The moss helps them to camouflage, and will even change colour with the seasons enabling the sloth to have the most up-to-date look.
The mossy sloths fur is home to a diverse community of fungi, algae, insects, mites and ticks. Some species of moths (Cryptoses) live exclusively on sloths! Feeding on sloth poo as larvae and on fur algae as adults.
Scientists have described sloths as a “mobile ecosystem” and believe that one of the possible reasons for sloths’ daring, but regular return to the ground to defecate is to encourage this moth lifecycle.
What do you think? See the mossy, mothy, sloth up-close with Sir David Attenborough here, or scroll down to make a sloth of your own:
Make a mossy, mothy sloth:
You will need:
- Sloth template (click here to download)
- Two clothes pegs
- Crayons, pencils or collage materials
- Choose your sloth template and cut it out carefully using scissors.
Tip: The moths do not need to be neatly cut out. They can be cut out roughly and will still be effective.
- Decorate the sloth body using your colouring materials. Make sure you incorporate the different shades and colours of fur that a sloth has.
- Use more colouring materials or collage materials, such as these cut-up bits of magazine, to layer the moss onto your sloths back.
- Add a colony of moths to the moss.
- Grab your two pegs to give your sloth some arms and legs. You have two options here:
- Peg the legs onto your sloth just like you would with clothes. This lets you move the legs to different positions.
- Glue your sloth body to the peg end, like in the image. This means that your sloth can grip onto and hang from anywhere!
- Find somewhere for your sleepy, mossy, mothy, sloth to hang out.
Discover more about sloths from the World Wildlife Fund: Why are sloths slow?