This Is Why Scientists Are So Interested in Sloth Poop

Sometimes science is fascinating, and sometimes it’s really strange and weird. This is one of those instances. The fascination with sloth poop starts with their unusual bathroom habits. Sloths are incredibly slow, and spend the vast majority of their time in jungle trees. However, they venture down to the ground once a week to go to the bathroom.

Three-toed sloth in tree

Descending to the jungle floor makes the sloths incredibly vulnerable to predators, so scientists have wondered why they do this when theoretically they could just do their business high in the trees. Is there some kind of benefit to the sloths that science just doesn’t understand yet? Several theories abound, but the closest they have gotten to solving the mystery of sloth pooping habits involves moths and algae.


Since sloths barely move and live in humid and fertile climates, their fur often becomes home to colonies of algae, and the moths that feed off it. One of the few working theories is that the moths help provide more ammonia to the algae, which in turn makes it more nutritious for the sloth. However, they haven’t been able to prove that sloths eat the algae on their fur and so the mystery continues.

Sloth with algae

No one knows why they risk their lives to poop on the ground, but when they do, they hug a tree and do a little poop dance.

What Do You Think?