On Sloths, Beer, & Venomous Creatures (That Aren’t Poisonous)

What do sloths, beer, and venomous (as opposed to poisonous) creatures have in common? Not much, except that they are all related to bookish or linguistic topics:

(1) “Slothified”

Sparky!Monique Pool, who lives in Suriname, has saved hundreds of sloths. In this video on CNN.com, you can see her “slothified” home. Her goal is return the animals to the wild, emphasizing that sloths are not pets. This is a point I mention to my children every time we read Jenny Offill’s poignant children’s book, Sparky!

As I discussed in Sparky. Sparky? Sparky!:

“The story features a little girl who wants a pet. Her mother says, ‘You can have any pet you want as long as it doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed.’

Somehow a sloth fits the bill (presumably, it feeds and hydrates itself from the leaves in the yard).


Offill’s fictional child hopes that her sloth, Sparky!, can be trained out of his slothful behavior. Will he adapt to meet her expectations—and earn the exclamation point beside his name–or will she learn to accept him as he is.”

Sparky isn’t the only fictional sloth to make his way into my children’s lives. We also have J. Otto Siebold’s Lost Sloth, in which one of the slowest creatures on earth wins a shopping spree.

And who could forget the cameo appearance of two sloths on the cover of Pssst! by Adam Rex?

mating or parenting_An uncomfortable question

My post on the controversy surrounding those sloths, Is this Book Adorable or “Lewd and Unsuitable for Small Children”?, receives traffic from inquisitive googlers searching for information on sloth mating habits (at least that’s what I assume they want when they google “sloth sex”). As informative as that post is—if I do say so myself!—I don’t think it’s quite what they’re looking for.

(2) My Kid’s Too Young for Beer, But Not for “Cuddly” Cholera:

I learned that Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, one of my daughter’s favorite places to go, is hosting a pop-up beer garden on August 27th with its own brew: Ümlaut Fever.

Cholera is Cuddly_Apparently (2)Unfortunately, my daughter is only four, so she won’t be attending the event.

Some people even think she’s too young for the museum’s regular exhibits, including a fascinating collection of skulls and the remains of a woman encased with a fatty substance called adipocere.

The Mütter Museum’s gift shop is where my little girl picked up her cuddly cholera microbe, which didn’t faze anyone at her awesome preschool when she brought it in with one of her bird toys (as described in You Have a Bird and… What is That?).

To learn more about the Mütter Museum, check out their website. To learn more about the man who created it, check out Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s book, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine (which I discuss in Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale?)

(3) Poisonous or Venomous?

It’s common for us to use “poisonous” and “venomous” interchangeably, but a recent article from Smithsonianmag.com sets us straight:

“Some people use the words interchangeably because once in the body, the chemicals do similar damage, attacking the heart, brain or other vital targets. But the terms do mean very different things. Traditionally, venomous creatures bite, sting or stab you to do their damage, while you have bite or touch poisonous critters to feel their effects. That means venomous organisms need a way in, like fangs or teeth.”

frogs side of the storyWords are fascinating, as are the venomous frogs that prompted this discussion. These homely frogs “use spikes along their lips to inject potent chemicals, giving aggressors a mix between a head butt and a toxic smooch.”

So, beware.* Corythomantis greeningi isn’t the type of frog on which to act out your “frog prince” fantasies. 😉


*The image with the frog is the cover of Frankly, I Never Wanted to Kiss Anybody! by Nancy Loewen (author) and Denis Alonso (illustrator). It’s told from the frog’s perspective (we have this book, but my kids haven’t read it yet).


  1. Cute posts. I cannot image having a sloth as a pet. A goldfish is more animated. I did know the difference between venomous and poisonous. The explanation makes it easy for those that didn’t. It is true, certain frogs won’t become a prince, but pack a powerful kiss.

    1. Yes, a goldfish is far more animated! A sloth would make a terrible pet, but they are very cute. The CNN video is worth seeing. I hope you’ve had a great weekend!

  2. I’ve lately noticed people’s fascination with unusual pets, including sloths, and it disturbs me. Haven’t we messed with enough creatures by now? The Chinese put live animals into plastic for kids to hang around their necks. *shudder* Please stop now.

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