I used to love pranking people. Small, little, all-of-a-sudden pranks. I don’t mastermind anything too elaborate. I’ve never had the foresight to plan something that takes a lot of brain-power, cooperation, or good-timing. I’m not George Clooney on the set of Ocean’s Eleven. I basically enjoy gently fucking with people and/or scaring them suddenly. Perfect example, when I was on the newspaper staff at my highschool, I used to like to hide in dark corners of the shut-down (except for Villa Notes editorial staff) building and jump out at other newsies when they were coming out of the copy room. One time, I scared a girl so bad that she cried. Sorry, Amy Gray. I was only funnin’.
Maybe I’m not so much a prankster as I am an asshole.
Anyway, the instant gratification of terrifying someone I love is now easier than ever with the power of the Internet! You see, my girlfriend has an irrational hatred and fear of sloths, whereas I have an irrational fascination with them that borders on adoration. (They always look so smiley!) So, what I sometimes like to do is send her photos of sloths within emails under a false subject header. Typically, I’ll go with something that I KNOW she’ll open like ‘funny kittens!’ or ‘new Indigo Girls album!’ and then when she clicks open, a pic like this will be there:
Get it? I’m exploiting her fears! This usually results in an immediate phone call from her where I’m told that I’m awful and questioned about how I could possibly think sloths are cute and not horrible and don’t I see that there’s something not right with them? That’s the crux of it, really. Karey thinks something isn’t ‘right’ with them. To her, they are the animal equivalent of that cross-eyed banjo playing kid in Deliverance. She thinks they have ‘spooky wee faces’ and that they could slash you up real good with their long claws if given the opportunity to get within striking distance. When I’ve reassured her that they live mostly in trees and are, in fact, the slowest land animal AND quite docile, she still insists that they could drop out of a tree onto your head and kill you, like some vicious, long-nailed fancy fur hat. She feels that way even after I send her pictures that are THIS adorable:
The way she feels about sloths is captured perfectly by this classic Natalie Dee cartoon. I swear, the similarity of her nightmarish scenario of sloth-death-from-above and this toon are purely coincidental. Perhaps this indicates that more people than you’d think are crazy afraid of sloths. It is titled ‘Attack Sloth’:
But I think sloths are awesome. That’s why they are today’s great thing:
I like ’em two-toed AND three-toed. There are actually six varieties of sloth (four three-toed and two two-toed) and they all live within the rainforests of Central and South America. Luckies!!! Interestingly, sloth fur grows in the opposite direction of other mammals. (Hair typically grows towards extremities). It’s theorized that the reversal is due to the amount of time that the animals spend hanging upside-down. Theyachieve naturally the back-combed look that Russell Brand can only dream of. The fur also hosts cyanobacteria which is symbiotic as it gives the animal the gift ofcamouflage. Its fur is also a microcosm of non-parasitic insects. Again, similar to Russell Brand’s!
Recent scientific findings have uncovered some new and unusual behavior in the two-toed variety. Apparently, two-toed sloths have been seen descending from their trees to eat poop out of latrines. I have to admit, that is pretty vile. There are several theories for this behaviour, including one that posits that they’re only eating the poop for the bugs that flock to it. Still, that’s gross, sloths. But, before you judge too harshly, you know your dog would eat your poop if given half a chance. It would gobble up your poop and then lick your face and you would still love it–your dog, that is. Plus, who can resist a bowl full of human poop? We eat such delicious things. Where else, in the fricking jungle, is a sloth going to get its little hands on Dorito fragments and empanadas if not our waste? Anyway, the reason that this is so unusual is that a typical sloth diet is almost exclusively leaves–specifically leaves attached to the tree that the sloth itself is attached to. On rare occasions, they will supplement their diets with bugs, small birds, or reptiles. Poop is a new thing.
Their giant Krueger-esque claws are their only defense and the only time they typically need that defense is on a rare journey to the forest floor for a poop. Sorry to keep talking about poop in this post (no I’m not). But, did you know that sloths dig a hole to poop in and then bury it? Tidy! Interestingly, though they are useless on the soil, they are excellent swimmers. I do not know if they ever poop in water.
Here is a video of a sloth descending from its tree for a poo:
I like how David Attenborough pronounces it ‘slowth’. I named my stuffed-animal sloth that I got from the zoo ‘Slowlita’. And yes, I tuck it into Karey’s side of the bed to annoy her. To add scientific theory to that video, some people think it chooses the same spot (near the base of the tree) so that it helps in the fertilization of what is its number one food source…
So, the main two camps of sloths are two-toed and three-toed. (BTW, the ‘toes’ in question are actually fingers…they all have the same number of toes…just a different number of claws). The two-toed variety are usually brown and look a bit more like baby bears. The two-toed variety are also generally a bit more aggressive if pushed to it (they’re nocturnal as well…perhaps making them grumpier during the day) and the three-toed are the grey and black ones that look dopey and happy. Three-toed sloths have extra neck bones, allowing them to turn their heads almost 360 degrees. Something tells me that that would freak the shit out of Karey. Here’s one of the best slide shows ever about sloths. Great pics, seriously: BBC
I think what I like so much about sloths is that they’re sooo unusual looking. They don’t look like much else on earth, do they? Their closest ancestors are actually armadillos and anteaters but sloths look more than a few branches away on that family tree. Really, they look like an animal that was created by Jim Henson. Their arms especially and their slouchy little bodies are right out of Muppet Studios.
The other thing about sloths is that though they do move ridonkulously slow (this is due to their low-metabolism brought on by their diet), they don’t actually sleep all that much. On average, they sleep ten hours a day. I would too, if I didn’t have access to coffee. There’s something about sloth behavior that’s a bit ‘stop and smell the roses’ isn’t there? With their perma-smile and mellow movements, they look perpetually stoned. Sloth Club is a group out of Japan dedicated to what they interpret as ‘sloth philosophy’. It’s all about slowing down our usually frantic pace. Sloth Club
Would you like to see a video of some baby sloths? I know I would. These are from a sanctuary in Costa Rica. (Dropped sloths are rarely retrieved by their sloth-moms if they should accidentally fall to the ground.) Luckily, organizations like this one–sanctuary — and not my gf Karey–who would be so terrified at the sloth falling from the sky onto her that she would probably stomp it to death–scoop up the orphans:
Before I close, I’m tempted to show an entertaining little video about sloths that was featured on SNL. Now, you should be able to view it on Hulu or on SNL’s main NBC site. However, I don’t have the rights to see that shit. Just because I live in Britian. Come on! Hurry it up international trade laws or whatever body it is that governs this crap. The world needs to see more Target Lady sketches! Anyway, I did find one site that Viacom hadn’t crushed with its cruel fist yet. But, instead of embedding the vid, I’m just going to link to it. Maybe that way, it’ll be safe from corporate destruction. It’ll be our little secret. Shhhh….