Saturday, 27 November 2010

Andrew Gray comes to visit!

Like I mentioned in my last post, Andrew Gray (the supervisor for my project from Manchester) has come out here to help decide what direction to take the project in. He arrived here on Thursday and already, we have come up with a really exciting plan for the study! I will summarise it briefly here...

So for those who don't know a massive amount about Sloths, they have a number of features that make them completely unique from other mammals. Firstly, they have a VERY low metabolic rate - it is thought that one meal takes up to a month to digest!! As well as this, they can't thermoregulate like other mammals; they act almost like reptiles and amphibians moving in and out of the sunlight to control their body temperature. In captivity they can't do this because they don't have any access to the sunshine - their enclosures are basically a uniform temperature.

So the idea we have come up with will basically involve me using 3 female Bradypus sloths, kept alone in standardised enclosures for 6 months. I will me carefully controlling everything myself including exactly what and how much they eat. I will be taking both the body temp's and the ambient temp every 4 hours for the full 6 months and will be able to compare these against each other. Along side this, the sloths will each be wearing a daily diary for the full time, recording exactly how long they spend active (I will then be able to compare this back to the temp...!)
The final piece in the puzzle will involve me monitoring the metabolic rate of each sloth using carmine red - so feeding them the die with one meal and recording the time until they give me some red poo - potentially up to a month! I will also be measuring humidity and rainfall levels throughout ... Sooo from all this I will be able to see how ambient temp, body temp, activity levels, humidity and rainfall affect the metabolic rate!

I hope for my final month here I will be able to head up to the new sanctuary in Monteverde where it is much cooler and compare how the sloths up there (that aren't naturally found there) are coping with the ones here! - exciting stuff!

Anyway I will collect some pics etc of the new enclosures and how the sloths are settling into them over the next few days and pop them up on here so you can see!


1 comment:

  1. Hi Becky,

    While looking for opportunities to visit a sloth sanctuary while in Costa Rica at the end of February, I came across your blog. I understand that you work at the original sloth sanctuary, but read here (and hear from friends) that there is a new sanctuary open in Monteverde.

    I am trying to find more specific information about this location. Any chance you could send me some recommendations? I will not be able to hit the Caribbean side, but will be staying right in Monteverde, as a friend is the director of the Cloud Forest School there.

    Appreciate any suggestions you may have!