Skinny Daily Post


I am not sure whether I need a surgeon or an exterminator.

I have a three-toed sloth, bradypus variegatus, hanging from my neck. That is, his long fore-claws are wrapped around my left jugular, but his back claws are wound tightly around my heart. He hangs there, heavy and slow, pulling at my neck and heart when I move or roll over. He moved in around midnight, November 2, and I haven’t been able to get rid of him.

You know how I hate to diagnose myself, not being a medical professional. And I can’t find my condition using the symptom checker at, but even without the texts or a decent sloth-infestation Yahoo discussion group to back me up, I’m fairly certain. It’s troublesome to me that I cannot make anyone see the animal, but I certainly feel him, all 10 lbs. of him, hanging there, at my neck, at my heart. Those long, long claws.

Above all, I can feel his claws. Once in awhile he shifts his grip, regrips, and settles again.

And of course, spending time with a sloth is nothing if not draining. One should not associate with them if one wants to be productive. I find myself influenced by his every behavior, moving more slowly, blinking and staring and using very little energy. I did not exercise at all last week.

But today is a beautiful November day. Sparkling and bright. The leaves are nearly gone, and the woods are a completely different place than they have been. The last left, the over-wintering animals are busy at their industry. Squirrels gathering what they can, mice packing their bags for the big move into my house. I would be enjoying all this bustle but for this creature who has taken over my life.

I think it’s time for him to go.

How to get rid of an unwanted sloth? It’s nearly impossible to scare them. They don’t scare. You can’t really lure them with food, they burn so few calories, and are content to eat whatever’s in front of them, or not at all. The best thing one can do is make the entire habitat unappealing so that they, by degrees, become annoyed enough to expend their precious energy and move on: Exercise. Sloths loathe action.

So, I’m off. Strapping on my shoes and heading for a long hike through this crisp day. It may take a few long, long, long hikes like this one before I’m able to fully extricate this creature, encourage him to move along. But move along he must. I’ve got work to do.

The Pest

Managing Post-Election Depression, Emmanuel Maidenburg on NPR

12 thoughts on “Sloth Bait

  1. DeAnn says:

    I think I have the same problem! And thank you for being so eloquent, constantly.

  2. jappy says:

    My sloth sits on my nightstand staring at me every morning. Tells me I’m too tired to continue to get up at 4:30a to exercise! It’s managed lately to convince me to exercise 4 days instead of 5. I’ll put a stop to that one!

    Thanks for the reminder!

  3. magic1 says:

    Oh my god, who knew sloths were so cute! lol

    Mine is a big, hairy smelly thing and it keeps whispering “Nothing really matters….” into my ear. It’s feeding on the 10 pounds I have regained in the last few months. I hate feeling this way, especially going into the winter when my natural inclination is to hibernate.

  4. Quinn says:

    oh, is THAT what this thing is!

    Well! I’m going to walk the 1.5 miles to the library/grocery store today. It won’t like that. 🙂

    (Um, no. The local public library is right across the street from the grocery store. Not the same building. :))

    (Willya get a look at those claws!!! OOOOWWWWWWWW!!)

  5. Susan says:

    I thought it was just me.

  6. Susan says:

    I thought it was just me.

  7. Gwen says:

    There’s so much work to do – might as well be fit and fab doing it! (Psst… at least we went blue!)

  8. Happy Apple says:

    And he has such a sweet little face, too. But isn’t that how most slothish things work their way into our lives? Such an innocent face, and I’m thinking “Oh, it couldn’t be that harmful. I’ll hold it for just a minute …” and I never look behind the face. I should’ve looked, but I didn’t. And like everyone else here, I’m trying to figure out a way to get his claws out of my neck. And when I do, I hope I have the good sense to not let him near me again. Unfortunately this isn’t my first time to struggle with a sloth (how embarrassing is that?) I am wiser now, though, so that is in my favor.

    JuJu – I’ve read your column for a while now, lurking as they say. Thanks for providing so much insight and inspiration.

  9. Marisa says:

    Juju – I love your column, and I’ve been reading for a while without commenting. I find your writing incredibly inspiring, and a while ago I even went back through your old columns and read them. This one is particularly appropriate for me at the moment, as I try to recover from last Tuesday’s crash landing from two years of political activism, and to find the energy to go on working for change. Last week I ate the kids’ Halloween candy and vegetated; this week I’m doing better. Your column helped me, as it has many times before. Thank you.

  10. Marie says:

    Well that’s all we need, spam on JuJu’s site eh? Well anyhow..yeah I have one of thos sloths too. I think he might be there during the week, but I can barely see him as I’m whizing by from one thing to another (unfortunately usually not exercise). But come Saturday morning, he’s relentless and doesn’t want me to do anything but read, or fall asleep trying to read. Bad sloth bad bad. I think he’s been hynotizing me with those big slothfull eyes..or maybe that’s the tv, hmm.

    (I do hope you meant sloth the way we are all taking it, of course if you really felt like there was something heavy on your chest you’d go right to the doctor right??..just checking)

  11. JuJu says:

    Hi Marie,

    Don’t you worry. I have a very healthy heart. Checked and double checked. And triple.

    Sigh. Yeah, hit hard with the spam last night. A very industrious spammer. I’ll find time to sit and remove almost 100 comments from the blog…

    Some people’s industry.


  12. Sheri says:

    Oh man, how timely you are with this, JuJu. You see, I woke up with the sloth this morning but couldn’t figure out what was up. Just let him hang there and allowed him to keep me on my butt all day, either in front of a TV or a computer. No exercise (and I ALWAYS exercise on Saturdays), no housecleaning, nothing.

    I’ll banish him tomorrow with a zesty walk in the leaves! Thanks!

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