Some facts about pangolins
Pangolins are insectivorous mammals confined to the Afro-tropical and Indo-Malayan regions. They are also known as “Scaly Anteaters” because of their structure and food habits. These burrowing mammals predominantly feed on termites and ants. Pangolins are unique with a body covered with tough, overlapping scales.
In presence of a danger, pangolins quickly roll themselves up into a tight ball. In fact, the name “pangolin” is derived from Malayan phrase “Pen Gulling” meaning the “rolling ball”, owing to this particular behavior. Pangolins are solitary, nocturnal creatures, and are known to be good climbers. Pangolin limbs are stout and well adapted for digging. Each paw has five toes, and their forefeet have three long, curved, claws used to demolish the nests of termites and ants and to dig nesting and sleeping burrows. Pangolins shuffle on all four limbs, balancing on the outer edges of their forefeet and tucking their fore claws underneath as they walk.
With small conical heads and jaws lacking teeth, pangolins have amazingly long, muscular, and sticky tongues that are perfect for reaching and lapping up ants and termites in deep cavities. Pangolins have poor vision, so they locate termite and ant nests with their strong sense of smell. A pangolin’s tongue is attached near its pelvis and last pair of ribs, and when fully extended is longer than the animal’s head and body. At rest a pangolin’s tongue retracts into a sheath in its chest cavity.
There are eight pangolin species in the world. Based on their distribution they are categorized as Asian and African pangolins. Four species are occurred in Asia and four are in Africa. Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla), Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis) are the four Asian species and Cape or Temminck’s Ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii), White-bellied or Tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), Giant Ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) and Black-bellied or Long-tailed pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla) are the African pangolin species. The Asian pangolins are distinguished from the African counterparts by the presence of bristles which emerge from between the scales.