- The Pangolin remains the only known mammal to have evolved protective scales. Due to these, people sometimes call it the scaly anteater.
- The animal constitutes the only surviving member of a family. Also, only four known species of this unique creature exist.
- Sadly, this impressive species now lists as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. The Pangolin remains the most heavily hunted mammal in the world.
- It now enjoys protection by law, yet illegal hunting continues. It still gets hunted both as a source of bushmeat and for its scales (for clothing).
- The animal also gets hunted for use in making traditional medicines.
Pangolin Physical Description
Due to its rather distinctive appearance, the Pangolin remains easily recognizable.
The scales covering its body grow large, and composed of keratin. Each scale also possesses a sharp edge, further increasing the protection they provide.
These protect the Pangolin from would-be predators since the animal curls into a tight ball when threatened.
The various species range in length from 12-39 in (30-100 cm). Average weight is about 4.4 lb (2 kg). Sexual dimorphism is present, with males averaging 50% larger than females.
The legs grow short, giving it a low-slung form. It also possesses a thin tongue which the animal can extend as much as 16 in (40 cm).
The claws are relatively long and quite powerful. In addition to its armor, it also has a second defense mechanism. When threatened, it can release a noxious-smelling chemical from glands near the base of its tail.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Pholidota
- Family: Manidae
Pangolin Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The majority of the different species live as nocturnal, yet one appears active by day. It typically makes its homes in either hollow trees or deep burrows. These burrows may be as much as 11 ft (3.5 m) deep.
Its diet consists mainly of termites and ants, which it locates with its keen sense of smell. These it extracts with its specially adapted tongues.
This extraordinary creature typically walks on all four legs, yet remains capable of walking on its rear legs only for a short time. It also seems to be an excellent swimmer.
This animal lives a primarily solitary life, usually meeting only to mate. A typical litter contains 1-3 offspring.