The three-toed sloth is not well informed about the outsideworld. On a scale of 2 to 10, where 2 represents unusualdullness and 10 extreme acuity, Beebe
(1926) gave the sloth’ssenses of taste, touch, sight and hearing a rating of 2, and itssense of smell a rating of 3. If you come upon a sleepingthree-toed
“Yes. She always carries a wonderful pair of glasses, and when we are over the water orders that I fly low and as slowly as possible12 while she examines the deep. I have to keep my eyes on the board, so I haven’t been able to look at
what attracts her attention especially, but a couple of times she has seemed very pleased over what she examined, and appears to admire the schools of fish we have followed a couple of times. Guess it’s a hobby of hers, and she hasn’t anything special to do, so she rides it—”
sloth in the wild, two or three nudges should sufficeto awaken it; it will then look sleepily in every direction butyours. Why it should look about is
uncertain since, the slothsees everything in a Magoo-like blur. As for hearing, the slothis not so much deaf as uninterested in sound. Beebe reportedthat
firing guns next to sleeping or feeding sloths elicited littlereaction. And the sloth’s slightly better sense of smell shouldnot be overestimated. They are
said to be able to sniff andavoid decayed branches, but Bullock (1968) reported that slothsfall to the ground clinging to decayed branches “often”.
How does it survive, you might ask.
“Oh, that is Mrs. Pollzoff. Her husband used to be in the fur business and when he died she sold her interest to a big syndicate, she told me, because she knew there wasn’t much chance of her making a success against such competition.
She is keen on aviation, and bought herself a plane but has never been able to get a license. I asked Mr. Trowbridge and he said he thought it was because
she showed very little judgment in an emergency; she cracked-up three times, and they forbade her to fly alone.”
“I should think they would,” Mrs. Langwell exclaimed indignantly.
“That’s all I know about her, except that she is madder than a dozen wet hens at the government for depriving her of the
right to fly; and she
seems to be
interested in fishes.”