Sloths Could Be Our Superheroes in The Fight Against the Growing Problem of Superbugs

By: | May 5th, 2023

Image by Pixabay

Sloths are some of the slowest and laziest creatures in the world. Sloths snooze for approx. 15-20 hours a day and move around 5 feet per minute on the ground and 15 feet per minute in the trees.

They are so slow in movement that algae grow on their furry coats.

Algae give them a greenish tint, useful camouflage in the trees of their Central and South American rainforest home.

Now, researchers from the University of Costa Rica have found sloth fur can keep serious bacterial infections in check.

“If you look at the sloth’s fur, you see movement: you see moths, you see different types of insects… a very extensive habitat,” Max Chavarria, a researcher at the University of Costa Rica, told AFP.

“Obviously when there is co-existence of many types of organisms, there must also be systems that control them,” he said.

Chavarria and the team analyzed fur samples from Costa Rican sloths and found the possible existence of antibiotic-producing bacteria.

Microbial resistance to antibiotics has been a growing problem that the world is facing today. Some antibiotic medicines no longer work to fight the infections they were designed to treat.

But Chavarria says that there is a long road ahead in establishing whether the sloth compounds could be useful in the struggle to fight the resistance to antibiotics.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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