New research shows wild sloths sleep less than captive sloths
May 14, 2008
Wild sloths are considerably more active than their counterparts in captivity, reports the first electrophysiological study of sleep in a wild animal.
Writing in the journal Biology Letters, Niels Rattenborg of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and colleagues report that wild sloths sleep less than 10 hours per day. By comparison, captive sloths sleep for around 16 hours per day.
“In terms of brain function, sloths may not be as slothful as was previously thought,” Rattenborg told Nature news.
Sloth in Panama
The research was conducted at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island in Panama using radio tracking collars and light-weight devices to record the brain electrical activity of wild sloths. The recording system may now be used to study the natural sleep habits of other species.
Rattenborg speculates that captive sloths may sleep more than wild sloths due to boredom.