What are pangolins?
Pangolins are a unique group of insect-eating animals, feeding mainly on termites and ants. They may look like reptiles, with their bodies covered in overlapping scales, but they’re actually mammals! Pangolins are about the size of a house cat, with small heads, long snouts, and thick tails. These prehistoric mammals, which have been around for 80 million years, are now threatened with extinction.
Did you know: Pangolins are the only mammals in the world that are covered in scales. Their scales are made of keratin—the same material that makes fingernails and hair.
Where do pangolins live?
Pangolins are native to Africa and Asia. They can be found in woodland and savanna habitats. The tree-climbing species make homes for themselves in hollow trees, while the ground-dwelling species dig deep burrows to nest in.
What do pangolins eat?
Pangolins are often referred to as scaly anteaters, and for good reason—they use their long, sticky tongues, which can extend 40 cm (16 inches), to slurp up ants. Their diets also include termites, larvae, and other small insects.
Fun fact: A single pangolin can consume 70 million insects per year.
What are the different types of pangolins?
There are eight living species of pangolins. Four of those species are found in Africa: Long-tailed pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla), tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea), and Temminck's ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii). The other four pangolin species live in Asia: Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), and the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla).
Do pangolins lay eggs?
Pangolins don’t lay eggs. Males and females mate once a year, and the females give birth to between one and three offspring at a time. Baby pangolins (also known as pangopups) are born covered in soft, white scales that harden after a couple of days. A baby pangolin will ride on its mother’s back by clinging to her scales.
Are pangolins related to armadillos?
Pangolins and armadillos are both mammals, like us, but they’re not considered close relatives to one another. Pangolins and armadillos do look similar, but pangolins are actually more closely related to dogs, cats, and bears than they are to armadillos.
Are pangolins dangerous?
Pangolins are more afraid of you than you are of them. These shy creatures won’t attack a human. When threatened, they resort to coiling into a tight sphere in self defense, relying on their sharp scales to deter predators.
Do pangolins make good pets?
Pangolins make terrible pets, and it is illegal to own them. They are not well-suited to living in any environments outside of their natural habitat. In fact, many zoos that have tried to house pangolins have found that most die within their first year out of the wild due to stress or dietary issues.
Why are pangolins endangered?
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world due to high demand for their scales and claws in traditional medicine. Their meat is considered a delicacy in some Asian countries and consumed as bush meat in some African countries. All eight species are now threatened with extinction, and three species—the Chinese pangolin, the Philippe pangolin, and the Sunda pangolin—are listed as critically endangered.
What are pangolin scales used for?
In traditional medicine, pangolin scales are believed to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, stimulate lactation, and relieve skin diseases, even though there is no scientific evidence that they provide any health benefits.
How many pangolins are left?
Pangolins are notoriously difficult to monitor because they are shy and nocturnal, making accurate estimates of their population size hard to determine. Conservationists, however are confident that all eight species are declining based on other methods. The monitoring of live pangolin seizure data/locations and volume of confiscated scales indicate how the unsustainable demand is impacting pangolin numbers.
How can we protect pangolins?
If you live in the United States, you can ask your senators to support the Preventing Future Pandemics Act—a bipartisan bill that will stop the trade in live wild animals, including pangolins, for food and medicine.