As ironic as it is, the tree dwelling ‘Sloth’ of Central and South America is named after one of the seven deadly sins, which derives from the Middle English word for slow, ‘slouthe’. I say it’s ironic, because it’s the creatures characteristically slow movements which actually help keep the animal alive. You see the sloths tropical rainforest predators, the likes of the Harpy Eagle (the largest bird of prey in the world), and the Jaguar (need I say more), are visually triggered towards their prey, and a creature such as the sloth - who can take up to 1 minute to travel 30cm - can easily slip under their predators radar.
Although according to this old Brazilian folk tale, it’s actually the sloths cunning that keeps it alive:
There was once a very lazy sloth who ran out of food, and being so lazy he devised a plan to get more food using as little effort as possible. He knew his four neighbours, the mouse, the snake, the boar, and the jaguar, would all have to walk by his tree at some point, and when they did he would ask them in turn for food, promising to replay them the following day. Sure enough, one by one they all came by, and on hearing the sloths plea they kindly shared their food with him, knowing that the sloth would pay them back the next day.
The sloth had managed to gather quite the feast, and being as greedy as he was lazy he scoffed down as much as he could then and there. The next day he woke up feeling extremely tired after his crafty banquet, and knowing that his neighbours would be calling round for their repayment, he devised another plan to excuse himself from his promises.
First to knock on the sloths door was the mouse, who upon being let in found the sloth with a massive bandage rapped around his head, exclaiming he was far too ill to pay the mouse back. The mouse felt sorry for the sloth and said he could pay him back some other time. Suddenly there was another knock at he door. It was the snake. The sloth, knowing that the mouse was scared of the snake, told the mouse to hide under his bed. Whilst the snake was being told the sloths sob story the boar knock on the door. The snake, fearful of the boar, dived under the bed too. Next to call round was the jaguar, which immediately caused the boar to flee under the bed as well.
As you can imagine. it didn’t take long for all four guests to become aware of one another, and so, the snake ate the mouse, the boar ate the snake, and then the Jaguar ate the boar. Whilst all this commotion was going on, the sneaky sly sloth slipped away out of sight, and legend has it that he's still hiding from the jaguar to this very day!
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With the exception of artists, inventors, and teenagers - we humans are diurnal daytime creatures on the whole, and although it’s one thing to be out and about during the night in a street lit urban environment, it’s a very different scenario if you find yourself in, say… oh, I don’t know, a forest per se. Where, if you’re lucky, you may hear the unmistakable cry or hoot of an Owl: natures very own nocturne, a stark reminder of the unknown peril of night, and a creature that has featured heavily in myth and folklore throughout the ages.