- Photo via Costa Rica Pura Vida Lifestyle Podcast Series -

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Published on Friday, November 12, 2021
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By Skip Licht

The sloths here in Costa Rica have mastered this upside down position!

Costa Rica is home to so many species of animals. Each one is more unique than the other. Mother Nature has indeed worked overtime to assure that everyone who visits this wonderful paradise gets their money's worth!

The sloth is an integral part of the animal kingdom here. They are found in almost every area of the country. There are over 30 national parks and with over 25% of the land mass designated and secured BY LAW as 'protected' areas, including these cute creatures that will be a part of Costa Rica forever.

Sloths are unique in many ways. Let's explore some of their characteristics.

In Costa Rica, we have two types of sloths. There are two-toed & three-toed. This can be somewhat confusing because in reality, both types of sloths have three 'toes' or 'claws' on their hind legs. The difference in the amount of 'toes' or 'claws' is noted on their front legs. Their toes, or claws, are huge and they are used for climbing and hanging on!

The sloths we have here are about the size of a medium dog. They have evolved from sloths that were once the size of an elephant!

The fur of the sloth is very dirty and provides so much camouflage when they are in the trees. With eagles and other raptors, as well as big cats as being their lethal enemy and their primary predator, the algae that grows on their fur provides protection for them. The algae keeps their matted fur dull & dirty-looking, a natural color that blends in with their surroundings.

The sloth's diet is mainly composed of leaves and flowers. Their digestive system is very slow and sometimes takes a week to digest one leaf. The sloth climbs down the tree weekly, defecates and climbs back up! They only do this once a week because when they are out of the tree, they are more prone to being attacked by predators. They lose over 1/3 of their body weight when they defecate. They go from fat to skinny in less than ten minutes!

Sloths have an extra vertebrae in their neck. It allows them to turn their head almost 360 degrees! This is necessary for their defense.

Sloths are able to swim three times faster than they crawl! They can hold their breath for 40 minutes by naturally lowering their heart rate to one third of the normal rate!

If the sloth has to travel somewhere on the ground, they can only move no more than 120 feet in a day! And again, when they are out of the tree, they can be picked off by a huge raptor or a big cat. They have absolutely no defense if they are not in a tree, hanging around upside down!

Sloths always look like they are smiling! That is why their image is used so much in advertisements, postings, videos, etc., to promote Costa Rica and other tropical paradises! They are a great representation of our "Pura Vida Lifestyle" here. Anyone who's ever seen one in the wild will never forget their experience. And, if you ever had to stop your car while driving down the road to assist that little bugger in getting across the road to the other side, then you've fallen in love with them FOREVER!

In Costa Rica, we have a lot of animal sanctuaries. They are located in every area of the country. With such a high number of native animals here, many become sick and injured. These 'rescue centers' invite volunteers from all over the world to visit and assist in their busy daily routine. Many centers have well over 100 animals that they are taking care of on any given day. This requires a lot of feet on the ground, lots of food, medical supplies, etc.

To volunteer at one of these centers is to experience Costa Rica in the wild. All of the centers are located on site in a deep-jungle setting. They raise money by charging a minimal fee to volunteer. For example, the location at which I volunteered cost me $125.00 per week. I stayed there for two weeks and it was the best $250.00 I ever spent in my life! Room, board and a valuable lesson in life! I learned to love the outdoors and cherish our native animals. I felt like I morphed into Tarzan! What an experience.

They also raise money by accepting donations and selling T-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. Many of them are open to the public seven days a week and charge an admission fee. You can rest assured that however you wish to assist, whether by buying a T-shirt, donating directly on their website or volunteering for a week or so, the money is spent wisely and indeed it does save lives! There is nothing more gratifying than taking care of an animal for two weeks and then being a part of its release back into the wild! It is indeed life changing!

Take a moment and Google, "Animal and sloth rescue centers in Costa Rica" and learn more about the good work that they do. And if you can, volunteer for a week or so! It will make you smile and feel so good about life again!

You're invited to visit our website Costa Rica Good News Report.

Enjoy over 800 episodes of our "Costa Rica Pura Vida Lifestyle Podcast Series." We are found on all major podcast platforms, including iHeartRadio, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Radio FM, Anchor and many more.

Article brought to you by Costa Rica Immigration and Moving Experts

The views or opinions expressed by the author are his sole and exclusive responsibility and do not necessarily represent the opinion of A.M. Costa Rica. Therefore, the newspaper doesn't accept liability for the author's opinion article content.

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