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What is a pangolin?

 
Pangolin in tree.jpg (10275 bytes)
  An arboreal pangolin climbs a tree.
   
  

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Pangolin Graphics, NYC
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  The pangolin is a long-tailed, sticky-tongued tropical Old World (Asia and Africa) mammal. Most species feed at night, sleep during the day, and roll into an impenetrable ball when threatened.
        The pangolin's body is covered with large, flat, imbricated horny scales; it somewhat resembles the New World armadillo in terms of its feeding habits and its employment of a curled up, hedgehog-like defensive posture. It has a long sticky tongue which it uses to gather termites and ants.
        The pangolin is also called scaly anteater, any of the armored placental mammals of the order Pholidota. Pangolin, from the Malayan meaning "rolling over," refers to this animal's habit of curling into a ball when threatened. About eight species of pangolins, usually considered to be of the genus Manis, family Manidae, are found in tropical Asia.

Description

Pangolins have a long tail, short powerful limbs, and a conical head. They are native to the regions of Southeast Asia and are found in parts of Africa. This reptile-like animal with large overlapping scales has often been spotted in the Kafue National Park, in dry woodland or scrub terrain.
        Some pangolins live in trees but most are ground dwellers. Ground dwelling pangolins have strong legs capable of digging into termite mounds for food. The arboreal pangolins have prehensile tails which they use both for balance and as a hook to hang from. Arboreal pangolins roll up in a ball in a tree hollow at night to sleep.
        Pangolins vary in size. The Long-Tailed Pangolin is smallest, at about 3 feet (1 meter) long and weighing 3-4 pounds (2 kg). The Giant Pangolin is almost 6 feet (2 meters) long and weighs 70 pounds (32 kg). The Giant Pangolin's tongue is about 2 feet (61 cm) long, and internally is anchored to the pangolin's hip bones.

Self-defense

Pangolins are well equipped for self defense. The pangolin usually rolls up into a ball when threatened. Pangolins can lash out with their razor sharp scales. Pangolins have scent glands similar to those of the skunk which they can use to spray enemies.
        Pangolins can amble along on all fours, but for speed they stand up on two feet using their long tail for support. They run at a speed of about 3 miles (5 km) per hour.
        Pangolins are endangered (CITES Appendix II or III, depending on species) because their skin makes attractive leather for boots, similar to snakeskin or armadillo boots. Also, pangolins are eaten in some parts of the world. Bill Arkin from Holo-Spectra claims to have had pangolin soup while in Thailand and nearly purchased a pangolin belt.

More information on pangolins

www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/eutheria/pholidota.html
www.animalomnibus.com

Brief National Geographic video about pangolins

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/animals/mammals-animals/other-mammals/pangolin.html

 

  This page last updated: Thursday, June 25, 2009 12:00 AM

 
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