What Do Sloths Eat for Food?

A sloth eats leaves, buds, twigs, fruit and insects. Once in a while, it may eat a small rodent, but the bulk of its diet comes from the trees in which it lives.

The sloth feeds mostly on leaves and other fibrous plant matter. Because this food is hard to digest, the sloth has a special digestive system. First, the sloth chews its food for long periods of time to break it down. After it swallows, the food passes through a four-chambered stomach, where bacteria help to break down the food even more. It takes up to a month for one meal to make its way through the stomach and intestines of the sloth.

This leafy diet does not provide the sloth with many nutrients, adversely affecting its energy levels. It compensates by moving very slowly. In fact, it moves so slowly that algae grows on its fur coat. It spends the majority of its life eating and sleeping while hanging motionlessly upside down from tree branches. It sleep up to 20 hours a day. The sloth does everything else upside down as well, even mating and giving birth while hanging upside down. The sloth's long claws and powerful arms help it to easily grip branches and stay aloft.