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Pangolin

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Pangolin
Pangolin.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species
  • M. culionensis
  • M. gigantea
  • M. temminckii
  • M. tricuspis
  • M. tetradactyla
  • M. crassicaudata
  • M. pentadactyla
  • M. javanica

The pangolin is a small insectivore found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. They are perhaps best known for their large protective scales. It spends most of the daytime under ground and at night hunts and forages for food. Like many animals today, hunting by mankind is one of its primary hardships.

Anatomy

The pangolin is a small mammal that is covered in plates of armor. These little plates cover their entire body. They are made of a substance called keratin, which our fingernails and hair are made from. These plates act as a source of protection and are very sharp. The pangolin can roll into a ball much like an armadillo to protect it’s soft underbody. They can also excrete a bad smelling liquid just like a skunk. Despite the many means of protection they carry we still manage to kill them. Pangolins have a highly developed sense of smell for finding food, detecting danger and escaping from almost everything. The pangolin is closely related to armadillos and anteaters.

The Pangolin has no teeth and is therefore benefited by having a very long tongue used for eating termites and ants. To help with the extraction of termites and ants the pangolin is fitted with enormous digging claws. Their claws are also used for protection and climbing trees. Pangolins were created for the things they eat. Their diet consist of ants, termites and other small insects they can catch with their sticky tongue. They even can rip tree bark from a tree to find whatever edibles it contains. [1]

Reproduction

The female pangolin gives birth to one offspring after one hundred and thirty days of gestation. She carries her young in her tail for protection. Little is known about birth in pangolins because there are so few left and the population is steadily decreasing.[2] They are born blind and crawl rather than walk. For a time after birth, the baby pangolin's scales are soft and not fully developed. Babies are sometimes hidden underground until they are fully ready to face the innumerable dangers of the world. The mother stops giving milk after two years by which time the pangolin will be almost completely mature. The Giant Pangolin breeds least in captivity, having had only two known births in captivity recorded. Females seem to be very protective of their young and have been known to kill intruding animals. Sparring has been reported between males for females depending mostly on size and aggression. Pangolins breed slowly and not many are produced yearly.[3]

Ecology

Southern Africa

Pangolins are found all over Africa. Three types of pangolins are found in Africa; the Giant Pangolin, the Common Pangolin, and the Tree Pangolin. The Common Pangolin is found in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and in more northern areas of Africa. Their range is restricted because frost doesn’t put the insects into hibernation and there is enough food all year.

The Tree Pangolin is found in heavily wooded areas of Africa where it can hide in the trees. Its food is ants and other forest insects that dwell in trees.

The Giant Pangolin is found in and on the ground in moist areas of Africa where there is plenty of grass and fields to dwell in. Its main food source is termites and ants. It can sit on its tail and literally kick and punch a termite mound to pieces. The pangolin is nocturnal and is found during the day in holes up to eleven feet(3.3 m.) below ground level.[4]

In Great Demand

Pangolins are killed and eaten in all parts of the world. They are considered a delicacy in China. Meat from a pangolin runs at a high price, the price including their lives. The meat is prized, but the scales are thought to be good for different illnesses and other things. The word "pangolin" means "rolling up into a ball" which unfortunately does not protect them from being trapped and shot. The pangolin now is being illegally transported and sold for large sums of money. They are also used for purses, shoes and other items. The Chinese believe the scales hold magic-like powers and that they act as natural painkillers. If something is not done soon the population of pangolins could perish and will never be seen again. It’s important that we respect and take care of the creation God has given us.[5]

Gallery

References