The Pangolin, aka scaly anteater, is the only mammal to be covered (head to toe) in keratin scales (the same material in human hair and fingernails). Their scales make up about 20% of a Pangolin’s weight! Pangolins are all endangered to one degree or another and conservation efforts are struggling to fight off poaching of these amazing animals in order to save the species.
First the Stats…
Scientific names: African White-Bellied Pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis) | Giant Ground Pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) | Ground Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii) | Black-Bellied Pangolin (Uromanis tetradactyla)
Weight: From 3.5 to 73 lbs
Length: From 1 – 5 feet
Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) They are insectivorous (feeding on insects) and are primarily nocturnal (active at night).
2.) Pangolins have large, curved claws that they use for digging out ant and termite mounds They also use them for pulling bark off trees and logs to find larvae.
3.) There are a total of 8 species and 4 live in Africa.
4.) The pangolin has a special glands near their anus that secretes a pungent, odorous fluid that is used for marking its territory. As is the case with numerous other animals, they also scent mark with feces and urine.
5.) When pangolins are threatened, they curl up into a tight ball to protect their undersides.
But wait, there’s more on the pangolin!
6.) With their sharp edges, the pangolin can slice predators with their scales!
7.) They don’t have teeth and are not able to chew food. Instead, they have long sticky tongues that they use to catch insects.
Did you know…?
Their tongue is up to 16 inches long!
8.) These amazing critters can close their ears and nostrils in order to keep insects out while they are feeding.
9.) The pangolin will eat gravel and small pebbles to assist in digestion of their food.
10.) It is estimated that a single pangolin eats up to 70 million insects per year!