Where do pangolins live?
They 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: Pangolin, Botswana, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kazungula, Kilimanjaro, Maasai Steppe, Zambezi, East Africa, Southern Africa
View Africa | Habitat
What is a pangolin?
Despite its scaly appearance, this species is a mammal, not a reptile. Its scales are actually made up of keratin, which account for about 20 percent 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. It also has no teeth, and instead possesses a gizzard-like stomach that is specially adapted for grinding food. To assist the grinding, this scaly creature consumes small stones and sand.
Pangolins are creatures of the night.
They remain in their burrows during the day and come out at night to hunt. It uses its keen sense of smell to locate termite and ant nests, digging the insects from mounds using its claws and eating them with its extremely long tongue (which can be up to 41 centimeters). In some cases, the pangolin’s tongue is actually longer than their body. Large salivary glands coat the tongue with gummy mucus to which ants and termites stick. When digging for insects, it can constrict their ears and nostrils to keep them out while feeding.
They are all 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, which inflict serious wounds on anything inserted between them. When threatened, they can also emit a noxious-smelling acid from their glands, similar to skunks except there is no spraying.
Females are usually alone with their young.
The young pangolin is about 15 centimeters long and weighs about 3 to 16 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, it begins to eat termites at 1 month. At this time the infant begins to accompany the mother, perhaps riding on the base of her tail. If the mother senses danger, then the baby slips under her and is protected when she rolls up her body.