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#AskTheExpert: Sloths, gator diets, eggs, and more...

Every day, our guests ask all kinds of questions about our animal friends, such as, How many hours do sloths sleep each day? (15-18), and Are zebras black with white stripes or white with black stripes? (the former). We want to allow ALL of our guests and fans to ask questions and hear (or in this case, read) the answers, so we decided to make a series of frequently asked animal questions and we're calling it #AskTheExpert

Do you have an animal-related question you'd like to see answered in a future blog post? Leave it in the comments below!

Here we go...

Amanda asked on Facebook, How long do sloths live?


The average lifespan for a wild sloth only ranges from 10 to 15 years. It would probably be shorter, but because they are nocturnal, they are able to hide from predators (such as jaguars, which are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk). The biggest factor to consider in a sloth’s lifespan is that they rarely come down from the trees where their slow speed is a big disadvantage.

Fortunately for our sloths, Guy, Ana, and George, sloths in captivity often live up to 30 years! With access to onsite veterinary care, proper nutrition, shelter, and enrichment toys, they will live long and healthy lives!

Jodie from Facebook asked, How much can an alligator eat in a year?

With the portrayal of alligators on TV, you’re probably thinking that all alligators do is eat, eat, and eat some more every day. While an 12-foot male alligator can eat nearly 100 pounds of meat each year, that pales in comparison to what Americans eat! NPR reported on a study of global meat consumption and found that the average American consumes 270 pounds of meat per year! Some reasons for this stark difference may include the fact that alligators are neither hunters nor gatherers – they’re more like lurkers, eating only when their prey swims or walks by. Also, while wild alligators have been known to eat larger mammals such as deer, their diet is primarily made up of fish, turtles, birds, frogs, and smaller mammals.

Daylan from Facebook asked, Do female alligators lay eggs even if they don’t mate?

Though hens will lay eggs regardless of whether they are fertilized, the same cannot be said for alligators. If a male alligator doesn’t fertilize a female alligator’s eggs, she will not lay any.

Another interesting (and relevant) fact about alligators is that they lack sex-determined chromosomes, so nest temperature determines their gender. If the nest temperature is above 93 degrees, the offspring will be all male; below 86 degrees, they will all be female; and if the temperature is between 93 and 86 degrees, there will be a mix of male and female offspring.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions! Hopefully this cleared up a few family dinner table discussions. Keep your eyes peeled for another #AskTheExpert blog shortly. Until next time, have fun exploring!

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