Speed of a Sloth

The Physics Factbook
Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students
An educational, Fair Use website

topic index | author index | special index

Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
"Sloths." Encyclopedia of Mammals, 1997: 2068. "… their top speed is a dismal 1.2 mph (1.9 km/h)" 0.54 m/s
Sloth the Mammal and Its Habitat. The Official SLOTH WebSite. "Due to its natural upside-down clinging position, the Sloth moves very slowly on the ground - usually by dragging itself along by its claws at a snail's pace of 15 yards per minute - and is easily attacked." 0.23 m/s
Goaman, Karen, and Amery, Heather. Mysteries and Marvels of the Animal World. London: Usborne, 1983: 30. "The three-toed sloth moves along the ground at a speed of 2 m/min." 0.033 m/s
(ground)
"Through the trees it is a little faster, 3 m/min." 0.050 m/s
(trees)
"Answering a ditress call from her baby, a mother sloth was seen to sprint 4 m/min." >0.067 m/s
(distress)
Elliot, Leslee. Mind Blowing Mammals. New York: Sterling, 1994: 49. "from the ground, this slow moving creature with a spurt speed of 10 ft
(3 m) per minute"
0.050 m/s
Tesar, Jenny. Mammals. Connecticut: Blackbirch, 1993: 10. "At top speed, the sloth moves only 15 ft (5 meters) a minute." 0.076 m/s
Ganeri, Anita. Small Mammals. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993: 23. "Sloths are the slowest land mammals. Their top speed on the ground is 5 ft/min. Up in the trees, they speed up to 15 ft/min." 0.025 m/s
(ground)

0.076 m/s
(trees)

The sloth is a mammal that lives in the trees of South America. They have a slow and peculiar way of moving about. In fact, they are the slowest land mammals and travel very sluggishly on the ground (0.025 m/s–0.050 m/s). However, when moving through the trees, they walk upside down hanging from branches and travel at a slightly quicker speed (0.050 m/s - 0.083 m/s). Their top speed is when climbing, and is used in emergency situations, (i.e. a distress call from a mother sloth's baby).

Sloths hang so securely from branches with their hook like claws, that they can even fall asleep in this position. Sloths are very lazy animals and sleep an average of 15 hours per day. Not only do sloths sleep upside down, but they eat, mate, give birth, and feed the kids in this position as well.

One might think that since sloths travel at such a slow speed, there is no way that they can escape from predators. Sloths have many enemies because of their slow moving nature, but they are not entirely defenseless. They use their claws and their teeth to attack their enemies. Surprisingly, sloths are relatively good swimmers. Their coat of fur allows for quick movement through the water.

Ivy Weinberg -- 1999

Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Doherty, James G. Natural History. March 1974. as cited in Speed of Animals. InfoPlease Kid's Almanac. "Three-toed sloth 0.15 mph" 0.067 m/s

Editor's Supplement -- 1999


Another quality webpage by

Glenn Elert
eglobe logo home | contact

bent | chaos | eworld | facts | physics