Why are sloths one of the cutest animals in the world?
Why are sloths so darn cute? Is it the little button eyes, the round, fuzzy head, or perhaps the adorable pink tongue? Whatever it is, there’s no denying it: sloths are so cute they just make your heart melt.
“Cute” is a word that means different things to different people. Scientists who study such things have shown lots of pictures to people to see what kind of faces ranked highest on the cuteness scale, and it turns out that we like faces that have big round heads, large eyes, and small chins. Other features might be called beautiful, lovely, or pretty, but it is usually these traits that make someone cute.
Why are sloths cute?
We find other animals besides baby humans quite adorable also. Many mammals share these features, and none more so than our domesticated friends, especially kittens and puppies. It’s possible that domesticated cats and dogs evolved especially cute offspring so that any nearby humans would be more likely to take care of them. After all, who can resist those woeful puppy-dog eyes?
Sloths, however, are not domesticated animals, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to why we find them so adorable. Perhaps they evolved to look cute to other sloths, and we humans just happen to agree!
It might also be that humans like to anthropomorphize animals we come in contact with, and project our own interpretations onto sloths. The color of the fur around the three-fingered sloths’ faces makes it look like they have a permanent smile, which looks very endearing! They don’t have huge eyes, but they do have very round eyes, and their round faces make it look like they have big foreheads with receding chins, which is spot-on for scientifically cute.
We seem biologically programed to seek out cute things
The internet is full of pictures and videos of animals (and humans) being cute, illustrations are specifically drawn with the features mentioned above, and even Mickey Mouse has gotten cuter over the years.
We send each other GIFs of creatures being cute, download wallpapers and backgrounds for our computer of adorable things that cheer us up, and stamp clipart of cartoon smiley faces on social media.
We make fan art, illustrations, and drawings, and Japanese even has the word “kawaii”, usually used in anime, that refers to an entire culture of things that are lovely, cute, and vulnerable. Does this make us happy? It must, or else why would we put it across so much of our daily life?
Cuddling and hugging are cuteness
It’s not just looks that we are attracted to. Actions can make us feel just as warm and fuzzy and sensitive as a cute face. Soft snuggles, cuddles, and hugs elicit that same feeling of tenderness that we get when we look at babies and baby animals.
Perhaps this is where sloths really excel on the cuteness scale: those furry arms just seem made for hugging! The way they sit on the trunks of trees like they are just cuddling right in for a nap makes it seem like they would be so much fun to snuggle.
Yes, sloths are cute, but we can’t hug them
It’s important to remember that just because a sloth likes to snuggle a tree does not mean they want to snuggle us! Except for raising their young, sloths are solitary, wild animals, and they don’t need humans to go around trying to hold them. Never touch a wild sloth, and don’t patronize organizations that allow sloths to be held by humans.
Let sloths be cute as nature intended them to be: from high up in the trees in their native jungle, and if you want to help them out, don’t hold their hand, just make sure they continue to have a home to be cute in.