Do you know pangolin is a Malay word? In Malay, the alternative word for pangolin is pengguling or tenggiling. It means “one who rolls up”. So the name of the pangolin animal originated from its ability to roll up like a ball.
Whenever the word pangolin appears in our mind, we first try to visualize their glossy scales. What are these scales made of? It’s an interesting thing to know.
Do you know a pangolin is born with soft scales? That’s why their mother doesn’t get hurt while giving birth to those little and cute pangolins!
Read more about the specific characteristics of pangolins below.
The scales of pangolins are actually a kind of hair. It is made of keratin. Our body hairs and fingernails are also made of this protein called keratin. This keratin scales protein their skin as a shield. The scaled body of a pangolin looks like a pine cone.
It curls up like a ball when there is any danger nearby. The hard scales protect their outer body and their sharp tails provide them an extra layer of protection. However, it is similar to that of a warrior with shields and a sword. Here the tail of a pangolin acts like a sword.
Like other animals, they don’t run away or fight back. They have the greatest weapon to survive in the animal world. “Silence”.
A pangolin rolls up like a ball and remains calm. Even lions become fools when they try to catch a pangolin. It’s the spirit of a pangolin. That remains unchanged even in front of a lion!
Do you know What Lions Eat? To know more click the link.
Other characteristics of pangolins
- Pangolins are nocturnal animals. Like owls, they sleep during the daytime and at night they become active.
- Pangolins live inside tree holes or in burrows. The place of living differs in different species.
- They mainly eat ants and termites. Their long tongues help them to find insects from the holes in the ground.
- The tongue of a pangolin is very long. It helps them to find insects living inside holes.
- They have a special gland close to their anus. It emits a foul-smelling chemical like a skunk.
- Their legs are short in size.
- They have sharp claws for burrowing mounds to find ants and termites. The claws also help pangolins to climb trees.
Range & habitat
There is three genus of pangolins, Manis, Phataginus, and Smutsia. Let’s know about the species that come under each of the genus and where they live.
The pangolins under the genus Manis, live in South & East Asia.
There are a total of five kinds of pangolins in the genus Manis. Let’s know their names and where they live.
- Indian pangolin: The Indian pangolin is also known as thick-tailed pangolin and lives in India.
- Chinese pangolin: The Chinese pangolin, a critically endangered species, is native to the northern Indian subcontinent, southern China, and northern parts of Southeast Asia. It has been enlisted in the IUCN Red List since 2014.
- Sunda pangolin: The Sunda pangolins live in Malay and Java. It is native to Southeast Asian countries.
- Philippine pangolin: The Philippine pangolin is also known as Palawan pangolin and it is native to the Palawan province of the Philippines.
- Asian giant pangolin: Asian giant pangolins are extinct species. They lived in Asia.
Phataginus pangolins are native to Africa. There are two species in this genus:
- Tree pangolin: Tree pangolins live in equatorial Africa. They are also known as white-bellied pangolin or three-cusped pangolin.
- Long-tailed pangolin: Long-tailed pangolins live in western and central Africa. There are also known as African black-bellied pangolins.
Smutsia pangolins also live in Africa. There are two species in this genus:
- Giant pangolin: The giant pangolin is the largest in the pangolin family. The range of its habitat stretches from West Africa to Uganda.
- Ground pangolin: Ground pangolins are found in southern and eastern Africa. They are also known as Cape pangolins or Temminck’s pangolin.
Pangolins are insectivores. It means they eat various kinds of insects. Pangolins mostly prefer ants and termites. A pangolin can eat 140-200 grams of insects in a day.
Behaviour & lifestyle
As it is said earlier, pangolins remain active at night. They mostly come out from their burrows at night to find insects.
Pangolins are lonely animals. They prefer privacy over socialization. There is no chance of social gathering or fun making in their world.
Here’s an interesting fact for you.
A male pangolin meets a female pangolin only to mate!
The mother raises the offspring for up to two years. Thereafter all of them choose their way.
Fun pangolin facts
Here is a list of top 10 fun pangolin facts that will definitely amaze you. There is a surprise at the end of the list…
- Large pangolins can stretch their tongues up to 40 centimeters.
- Only the long-tailed pangolin remains active at day.
- While sleeping pangolins curl up like a ball. It is called volvation, a defensive posture in specific animals.
- Pangolins can dig 3.5 meters deep tunnels.
- Pangolins are expert swimmers!
- Alas! Pangolins don’t have a good vision. They depend mostly on their ability to smell and hearing.
- The saliva of pangolins is too sticky!
- Pangolins don’t have teeth.
- Pangolins eat stones to digest ants.
- Do you know male pangolins don’t find females for mating? Female pangolins find suitable males to mate by smelling the male pangolin’s urine or feces.
Meet the pangolin
Do you know an Aardvark is a close family member of Pangolins?
You can also read about The Smartest Animals In The World here.
Did you enjoy learning more about the pangolin? Have you ever met this unique creature face-to-face? Tell us about your pangolin experience in the comment section below. Because those who care share!
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- Goode, Emilia (March 31, 2015). “A Struggle to Save the Scaly Pangolin”. The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
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- Yu, Jingyu; Jiang, Fulin; Peng, Jianjun; Yin, Xilin; Ma, Xiaohua (October 2015). “The First Birth and Survival of Cub in Captivity of Critically Endangered Malayan Pangolin (Manis javanica)”. Agricultural Science & Technology. Irvine, California: Juniper Publishers. 16 (10). ISSN 2471-6774
- Spearman, R.I.C. (2008). “On the nature of the horny scales of the pangolin”. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. Oxfordshire, England: Oxford University Press. 46 (310): 267–273. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.1967.tb00508.x
- Wang, Bin (2016). “Pangolin armor: Overlapping, structure, and mechanical properties of the keratinous scales”. Acta Biomaterialia. Oxfordshire, England: Elsevier. 41: 60–74. doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2016.05.028. PMID 27221793.
- “Meet the Pangolin!”. Pangolins.org. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-02-22
- “Manis tricuspis tree pangolin”. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan. 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-12-21
- Chan, Lap-Ki (1995). “Extrinsic Lingual Musculature of Two Pangolins (Pholidota: Manidae)”. Journal of Mammalogy. Oxfordshire, England: Oxford University Press. 76 (2): 472–480. doi:10.2307/1382356. JSTOR 1382356.
- Mondadori, Arnoldo, ed. (1988). Great Book of the Animal Kingdom. New York City: Arch Cape Press. p. 252. ISBN 978-0517667910.
- Wilson, Amelia E. (January 1994). “Husbandry of pangolins Manis spp”. International Zoo Yearbook. 33 (1): 248–251. doi:10.1111/j.1748-1090.1994.tb03578.x.
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