Burrowing mammals, Pangolins are also known as scaly anteaters. They are amongst the world’s most endangered species as a result of habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade.

 

They are largely covered by scales which grow like human hair and nails, being made of the same substance, keratin. No hair salon treatment required – the scales are filed down through the animal’s burrowing for ants and termites, its main diet. These are drawn up from deep nests by its very long muscular tongue which is attached near its pelvis. Their feet are adapted for burrowing, the forefeet having five toes but three long curved claws  for demolishing the nests of their prey.

 

Pangoins  sleep and nest in chambers in deep burrows, and in trees. Some burrows have been found that were large enough for a human to stand in.

 

They are solitary creatures and very secretive, which means that much still needs to be learnt about their habits.

When threatened pangolins roll into a tight ball. They also frighten off predators by hissing and puffing and lashing their sharp tails. Like dogs they mark their territory with urine – and by faeces and scent excreted from a special gland. They have a very well developed sense of smell.

 

Apart from ants and termites they also eat other insects such as flie ,worms and crickets. They are able to seal their nostrils and ears to protect themselves from attacking insects.

 

Mother pangolins will protect their young by rolling around them. Although the babies nurse for three to four months, they can eat ants and termites at one month. When young they ride on their mother’s tail while she forages. Most pangolins give birth to just one youngster.

Information from http://www.savepangolins.org/what-is-a-pangolin/

For a heart-warming story of a baby pangolin saved from the meat trade see

http://scenicsouth.co.za//2012/10/young-fish-hoek-geologist-handraises-baby-pangolin-in-sierra-leone/