Have you heard the story about the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise, even though it is so slow wins the race! Have you ever wondered just how slow the tortoise moves and what other animals are very slow? Come with me, Jungle Jim, to discover the world’s slowest animals.
Sloths are famously slow animals. Sloths are so slow because they only eat leaves. These leaves do not give them very much energy to move around. Sloths live mostly in trees, where they can eat plenty of leaves. Because sloths are so slow, they are also home to other critters like algae, beetles and other insects. The green algae can help sloths blend into the tree. Sloths only come down from the trees once a week to go potty. This is to keep them safe from predators. Because sloths are so slow they can be easily captured by predators. The trees are the safest place to be for a sloth.
The top speed of this slow moving creature is only .3 miles per hour. That means it would take a tortoise a little over an hour to move one mile. Tortoises typically live in areas with warmer climates, but some live in colder places and hibernate, that means sleep for a long time, during the winter. Some species of tortoise can grow up to 600 pounds. Tortoises also live a very long time. There have been tortoises that have lived to 150 years old. A tortoise is different from a turtle because it lives on the land and a turtle lives in water.
There are more than a thousand different types of snails. They live on the land, in the ocean, in lakes and in rivers. Snails that live on land shoot out slime or mucus that they slide along to move forward. Even with the slime underneath them, snails still move very slow. They will often move in a line to use each other’s slime so they can move more efficiently. Efficiency means they can go farther while using less energy. When working together snails can explore a whole garden in one night.
Manatees are very relaxed water creatures. They are mammals and require coming to the surface of the water to breathe. Manatees usually breathe every few minutes, but they can hold their breath up to 20 minutes if they need too. They are very large animals weighing up to 1,200 pounds. Manatees spend most of their day eating plants that grow under the water. Manatees only move at about 3 miles per hour but, sometimes they move at a top speed of 5 miles per hour. Because they are so slow and often near the surface of the water, manatees are easily injured by boats.
Star Fish are not fish! They are related to other sea creatures like urchins. They usually have five arms and get their name because they are shaped just like stars. There are some star fish that have more arms, but they are not as common. Star fish come in bright colors. These colors can help them blend in or scare off predators. The top of their body is also hard and sometimes prickly to help protect them from predators. Star fish have many unique features, but one of the most helpful is that they can grow new arms or sometimes whole new bodies if they are injured or damaged. Star fish have hundreds of tiny tube feet on the bottom of their body. They use these tube feet to move or to open the scallops and clams that they eat. Generally star fish move very slow and often lie hiding, waiting for prey to come along rather than chasing prey.
These slow animals have adapted to survive life in the slow lane. They can hunt, forage, and defend themselves from predators, all without moving very far or very fast. How slow can you go? Have a reverse race with your friends to see who can move the slowest!