Where do pangolins live?
Pangolins prefer sandy soils and can be found in woodlands and savannas that are within reach of water. They are dispersed throughout Southern, Central, and East Africa.
Tags: Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kazungula, Kilimanjaro, Maasai Steppe, Zambezi, East Africa, Southern Africa, West/Central Africa
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What is a pangolin?
Despite its scaly appearance, the pangolin is not a reptile. This mammal’s scales are actually made up of keratin, and these scales make up about 15% of its weight. The pangolin has a small head and a long, broad tail. It has no external ears, but its hearing is quite good. Pangolins also have no teeth and, instead, have a gizzard-like stomach that is specially adapted for grinding food. Pangolins consume small stones and sand to assist the grinding.
Pangolins are creatures of the night.
Pangolins remain in their burrows during the day and come out at night to hunt. The pangolin uses its keen sense of smell to locate termite and ant nests. It digs the insects from mounds using its claws and eats them with its extremely long tongue (which can be up to 16 inches). Large salivary glands coat the tongue with gummy mucus to which ants and termites stick.
It is armed and dangerous.
All pangolins are able to roll themselves into a ball as self-defense. Their armor-plated scales are also capable of a cutting action—worked by powerful muscles—that inflicts serious wounds on anything inserted between the scales.
Females are usually alone with their young.
The young pangolin is 6 inches long and weighs 12 ounces at birth. Its pale, soft scales begin to harden by the second day. The baby is folded in the mother's lap or rolled-up body. Nursed for 3 to 4 months of age, it begins to eat termites at 1 month old. At this time, the infant begins to accompany the mother, perhaps riding on the base of her tail. If the mother senses danger, the baby slips under her and is protected when she rolls up her body.