Pangolins are also called scaly anteaters. Pangolin, in the Malay language meaning rolling over, rolls into a ball when felt threatened. These beautiful creatures are critically endangered. By 2014, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had classified four species of pangolin as vulnerable, two species of the Indian pangolin and the Philippine pangolin as endangered, and two species of the Sunda pangolin and the Chinese pangolin as critically endangered.
let’s look at the top 10 facts about pangolins.
1. The Pangolin is a shy, harmless animal and it’s believed to be the world’s most trafficked non-human mammal. These critically endangered animals are killed for their scales for use in traditional Chinese medicine and for their meat.
2. Pangolins are the only mammal with scales, making up about 20% of their body weight. The scales are made up of keratin the same as human hair and nails, tiger claws, and rhino horn are made.
3. When pangolins feel threatened, they roll up into a tight ball to protect their tender undersides. Rolling up creates a hard, spiky, impenetrable ball that can defeat even the jaws of lions, tigers, and leopards. Their scales have very sharp edges, they can slice the skin of a human or predator.
4. Pangolins have a long sticky tongue that grows from deep inside their chest cavity and can extend to over 40cm, which is longer than their own body.
5. Pangolins have large, curved claws that they use for excavating ant and termite nests, as well as for pulling bark off trees and logs to find their insect prey. They do not have teeth and are unable to chew. Instead, they have long sticky tongues that they use to catch the insects they feed on.
6. It’s believed that a single pangolin consumes more than 70 million insects per year. They mainly eat ants and termites.
7. There are eight species of Pangolin. Four are found in Asia and four are found in Africa. Like a skunk, pangolins also release a harmful smelling acid to deter predators.
8. Pangolins do not dig their own burrows but make use of abandoned aardvark, porcupine, and warthog burrows. They may also shelter up in trees, termite holes, caves, in between rocks.
9. Pangolins are solitary and active mostly at night. The only time pangolins spend time together is when they mate and bear babies.
10. Giant ground pangolins are the largest of all eight species. One was found to weigh 33 kilograms (72.6 pounds) — the largest pangolin ever recorded. The Long-tailed pangolins are the smallest, weighing around 2-3 kg (about 4-6 pounds).