Interesting Facts About Pangolins
One of the species of critters that inhabits Sub-Saharan Africa is the Pangolin and with the focus on Rhino and Elephant poaching at the moment, it is easy to forget, or overlook, some of the other species that are in dire straits.
I am by no means belittling the current poaching crisis, however, this post is to remind us that there are other creatures out there than need our help and to share with you some of the interesting Pangolin facts.
The Pangolin is a rare species that only comes out late at night, later then most night drives end, so it can be difficult to spot and those that have seen them should consider themselves very lucky indeed.
The Pangolin has keratin scales that cover most of it’s body and the name comes from the Malay word: pengguling, which means “someting that rolls up”. This is their primary defense against predators. By rolling up into a tight ball, the pangolins protect their organs by leaving nothing exposed but their backs, and with it, their keratin scales.
There are four species of Pangolin:
- Giant Ground Pangolin (Manis gigantea) which can be found mainly in central and western Africa
- Ground Pangolin (Manis temmincki) which is found in southern and eastern Africa
- Long-Tailed Tree Pangolin (Manis tetradactyla) which is found in western-central Africa
- White-Bellied Tree Pangolin (Manis tricuspus) which is found in western-central Africa
- Size: 30 – 100 cm (12 – 39 in). Keep in mind that females are usually much smaller than the males.
- Weight: 15-18 kg
- Lifespan: About 20 years
- Tongue: A Pangolin’s tongue can be extended up to 40 (16 in) cm long, depending on the size of the Pangolin.
The Pangolin’s habitat is rather widespread and they can be found mainly in central and southern Africa.
They are able to inhabit a large variety of habitats ranging from forests to grasslands and savannahs.
These animals are solitary and prefer sandy soils where they can easily create burrows.
Pangolins are insectivorous, meaning they eat insects and feed mainly on ants and termites. They can consume 140-200 g a day.
They are water dependent and need to drink regularly.
Pangolins breed during the winter (dry season) and have only one cub at a time which weighs between 300g and 400g.
The gestation period is about four and a half months.
Poaching of Pangolins and habitat loss has made these one of the most endangered mammal species today.
There are a number of organisations trying to conserve, as well as raise awareness about the plight of, pangolins. Below I’ve listed just two whose websites you can visit in order to get more information on contributing to their efforts.
In times like these there are so many species needing our help and the fate of the pangolin lies in our own hands. Every little bit we can do will surely help.