One of our great expectations on visiting Costa Rica was to see a sloth. We were soon rewarded by being shown, after much searching, this great lump of fur high up in a tree, you could hardly make out that it was an animal at all. Subsequently we saw a number of these balls of fur, and occasionally the odd limb or face, but no decent photographs for some time.

Sloths are very inactive and usually choose the treetops to laze around in. Why are they so slothful? Apparently they eat leaves that their ancient digestive system takes many hours to digest and produce energy, so they have to just lie around. Also, two-toed sloths are nocturnal, so you’d expect them to be asleep during the day.

On the other hand, three-toed sloths are diurnal. Coming back from one trip by minibus we suddenly came across the featured one trying to cross a busy main road.

Sloth on road by vehicle

Now, the maximum speed of a sloth is around 3 metres per minute. This sloth was on a suicide mission!

Back on tree

Fortunately our guide knew what to do, picked up the sloth by holding around the fissure in its back and placed it back on a tree. He explained that you have to do it that way to avoid the claws, which are razor sharp. Hopefully all was well.

Only later, on retelling the tale, did we come to wonder quite what may have escaped from the complex ecosystem on the sloth’s back onto the person of our guide.

By the end of our trip we were glancing up at trees and saying ‘oh, there’s another sloth’. They seem to be quite common in Costa Rica.

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