The Sloth lives up to its name


Sloth is considered one of the seven deadly sins. But, at the Bat Zone in Pontiac, Sloth means something entirely different- a cute, cuddly, very sleepy creature."

If you are hoping to catch a glimpse of a sloth, you might start by looking for his bed. Sleep is what these elusive bundles of fur do best and for most of the day, says Sloth handler Dawn Vezina.

"Of course, when people discovered this animal that rarely wants to get up out of bed or is very- moving around very slowly- I'm sure that 'sloth' came to mind."

It takes a really tasty treat, like a hard-boiled egg, to lure The Bat Zone's resident sloth from his sleeping quarters.

His name is Molasses, as-in "as slow as molasses", Dawn says, "When he's coming out for food, that's about top speed right there."

Sloths are adorable and quite loveable, but these nocturnal creatures might not make the best pets, Dawn says, "Most sloths- at least the ones that I've met- prefer to just kind of hang out and do their own thing. So I don't think they'd make a fun or exciting pet to have."

Sloths are mostly vegetarian and, while he was happy to let me feed him a hard-boiled egg, Molasses stopped short of giving me a cuddle.

"They're friendly as long as you give them their space," Dawn explains, "They're not aggressive, that's for sure. Molasses will want to come and see if you brought any goodies for him, but most wild sloths would rather stay high up in the trees and away from people."

So, just what the heck is a sloth? A cousin of monkeys? Bears? Well, actually, Dawn says, neither.

"They're closely related to anteaters. Something that they share in common with anteaters is that they don't have any front teeth. They actually have very few teeth."

They have monkey-ish movements, but primates have five fingers. The sloth has what looks like a hook for a hand, but the hook is actually two fingers.

"They look like hooks; and they often use those to grasp on to tree branches," Dawn adds, "The sloth usually moves below the branch that they're hanging on."

Sloths' natural habitat is the central and south American rain forrest. Just like their homes, the sloths' population is dwindling.

"Some species are more threatened than others," Dawn says, "The species we have here is not a threatened species; though they're getting close to that status."

Gentle, a little lazy and very easy going. What's not to love about a sloth?

If you want to see Molasses eating some tasty treats, you'll find him at The Bat Zone in Pontiac. For more information, visit their website.

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