THE – WHAT, WHO, WHERE, WHY & HOW
The 15th February is World Pangolin Day. Not too many of us are familiar with these shy and elusive animals so we would like to take this opportunity to give a bit more insight into these amazing creatures.
What exactly is a Pangolin? Many people think of this animal as a reptile, because its whole body is covered in hard scales, but it is, in fact, a mammal. It uses these hard sharp-edged scales to defend itself by curling into a tight ball when threatened. It is the only mammal to be fully covered in hard scales which are comprised of keratin (the same substance as our hair and fingernails) which start soft when a baby pangolin is born and harden within a day or two.
Female Pangolins give birth to a single baby. These babies nurse for 3-4 months, although they do start eating insects at around a month old. During the early stages of life, they ride around on moms’ tail.
Pangolins are often referred to as scaly anteaters, due to the fact their diet consists primarily of ants, termites and their larvae, Pangolins are insectivores and do not have any teeth so they use their long sticky tongues to slurp up insects!
It is believed that a single pangolin can consume up to 70 000 000 insects in a year, the majority of that being ants and termites! 70 million!! That equates to around 191 781 per day!
Pangolins have very poor vision, but a great sense of smell which they use to help locate food. They have strong feet for digging open termite mounds with five toes, each containing claws, these claws also help them to climb trees, Pangolins are also very capable swimmers.