Can sloths jump?

There are a lot of things that sloths do, have or execute differently from other animals. For example, sloths eat less compared to mammals of similar size, about 3 times less compared to similarly sized howler monkeys who survive on the same diet of tropical leaves. Sloths also have the slowest metabolism for the group of animals they belong to — mammals, and also cover the least km per hour and rarely ever feel the need to quench a thirst.

In this article, we are goining to check out another interesting way in which sloths differ for the norm. We are going to be investigating the jumping and launching abilities of a sloth. So keep reading.

Can sloths jump?

The anatomy of a sloth is one that is seriously deficient in critical structures that would otherwise make jumping, hopping or any other form of temporary airborne locomotion practically possible.

Because of this, sloths are unable to exercise push force against any substrate and launch themselves into the air the way humans and other animals can.

The sloths strict anti-jump anatomy

The ability for animals to temporarily launch themselves into the air (or jump) is something that is made possible by means of stable legs, stable leg joints, large leg muscles and elastic elements for amplifying power output.

A deficiency or reduction in part, any, or all of these limb features can limit or prevent any sort of temporary airborne locomotion by the subjects in question.

Leg stability, joint stability and power (at the very core), are required to generate sufficient acceleration for launching into the air. The power is often generated by means of the muscles in the legs and sometimes the elastic elements that surround them. These features altogether enable animals to generate power for lifting themselves into temporary air borne locomotion.

Why sloths cant jump?

Sloths generally have a reduced muscle mass in comparison to other animals of similar size. To be more specific, they have 30% less muscle mass compared to other mammals they resemble closely in external size morphology, and this weird reduction is part of the main reasons why sloths are unable to walk, run, jump or even hop on leveled surfaces.

Sloths have a reduced muscle mass as a direct consequence of their arboreal slow-paced lifestyle. Evolutionally, we’re made to understand that sloths were initially huge terrestrial mammals that existed as far back as 35 million years ago, roamed the jungle areas of North and South America and overtime became smaller (in size and in numbers) and eventually graduated into the tropical trees of the South of America.

The fact that they spent most of their time in tree canopies, feeding, sleeping, basking and even reproducing, compelled the need to get rid of unnecessary anatomical features (the ones that aid terrestrial habitation) in order to avoid unnecessary energy expenditure. This meant that features that were needless and served no purpose other than being an energy burden had to be eliminated or repressed.

Sloths by the way have a super low calorie diet of tropical leaves and foliage, have an extremely slow rate of basal metabolism and an extremely laggard digestive system. All of these features together spell out “Limited Energy Budget”.

As a result of this adaptation, they ended up sacrificing a lot of muscle tissues that aided redundant activities (such as walking and running), and reorganized the remaining muscles in a fashion that mostly befits their arboreal lifestyle.

Muscle tissues require a great deal of energy to create and maintain, sacrificing a lot of them therefore means a huge energy savings, if you’re a sloths, you’ll understand better!

This trick helped their arboreal lifestyle in many ways. For example, it gave them the strength they needed to hold firmly onto tree branches for hours on end without getting exhausted, and it also gave them the ability to be able to withstand deadly and heightened falls from about 100 above the ground and shake it off like nothing ever happened.

This phenomenal evolutionary trick in contrast to all it’s marvelous good, brought forward many miserable trade-offs too. Sloths appear to almost completely sacrifice stability within their joints and therefore the ability to walk, run and perform may other form of terrestrial land locomotion.

They are hardly able to support their weight on flat surfaces using their limbs, and they ‘walk’ by hooking their foreclaws onto surfaces and dragging themselves (or their bellies) forward using their strong retractor muscles.

Do sloths hop from tree to tree?

Since sloths are unable to walk or jump on flat surfaces, they might perhaps be able to hop (with the aid of their forelimbs, just the way monkeys do) from one branch or tree to the other?

Well sorry to burst your bubble but no they don’t. Or rather they cant. Sloths are slow as a result of a strict energy budget. They have very little energy at their disposal at any given time.

They’re also constantly on the look for observant predators as they only have weak and rudimentary defense mechanism under their belts. So by all cost, they try as much as possible to avoid anything that will cause them to go noticed. These are the two reason why sloths do not hop in the trees like monkeys do.

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Cite this Article (APA Format)

Bunu. M. (2020, May 1). Can sloths jump?. Retrieved from

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