How do pangolins defend themselves?
When feeling threatened, pangolins roll up in a ball so only their scaly suit of armour is exposed. These sharp scales make it incredibly hard for big cats such as lions and leopards to bite through. They also deter predators by hissing, puffing, and lashing their sharp-edged tails. You can also help us protect pangolins here.
Can pangolins swim?
Interestingly! Pangolins are capable swimmers. However, they do prefer to be on land more often than not!
Pangolins are certainly not averse to water and can sometimes be found mud bathing which is great way to get rid of external parasites.
How do pangolins communicate with each other?
Pangolins are quiet creatures and make very few sounds, but males, for example, rarely make a soft hooting noise. As they move or climb, their scales can be heard rubbing against one another or past the grass and vegetation. That being said, when waking up or eating, they audibly snort and chuff.
How do pangolins give birth and care for their young?
Just like humans and elephants, female pangolins have pectoral mammary glands and give birth to live young. Females give birth to around one pup a year (unless, on rare occasions, she has twins). There are no records of full gestation periods, but various authors have speculated between 3 and 10 months. Temminck’s ground pangolin does have an estimated gestation period of 5 months, and it is also believed that this ground pangolin species only breed every second year.
When born, pangolin pups’ scales are fully formed but soft and pale and begin to harden over the first few days. Mothers nurture their young in nesting burrows if terrestrial or in a hollow tree or log if they are arboreal. She will leave the baby in the burrow while going out to eat but returns periodically to nurse the pup. When sleeping, the mother will protectively roll around her baby (this will happen if she feels threatened).
When the pup is still an infant, it will ride on the base of the mother’s tail, hooking its claws under the mother’s scales. Pups become independent at 3–4 months, and as they become more adventurous, will alternate riding on the mother’s back with foraging nearby.
How do pangolins contribute to their ecosystems?
Pangolins play a crucial role in both Asian and African habitats; between slurping up massive amounts of ants and termites and burrowing to create their homes, they are an asset to their ecosystems.
“By their behaviour of excavating burrows, they actually affect the soil processes, including turning over organic matter and aerating the soil,” says Neil Greenwood, IFAW’s director of wildlife rescue. “They’re essentially little gardeners.”
Can pangolins see well, or do they rely on other senses?
With their small cone-shaped heads and jaws lacking teeth, pangolins have incredibly long, strong, sticky tongues that are perfect for reaching ants and termites in deep cavities. Due to pangolins having poor sight, they locate these nests with their sense of smell, which is incredibly strong.
Eye of the Pangolin is a powerful, awareness-raising film about the critical situation facing the African pangolin. Pangolin.Africa partnered with Pangolin Photo Safaris, Biggest Leaf Travel and award-winning South African filmmakers Bruce Young and Johan Vermeulen to produce this documentary that tells the story of two men on a mission to get all four species of African pangolin on camera for the very first time.
As they travel the continent to learn more about those caring for and studying pangolins, they are captivated by these strange, secretive creatures and document the race to save them from being poached to extinction.
Why are pangolins endangered – is it because of pangolin scales?
Unfortunately, it is believed that pangolins are one of the world’s most trafficked non-human mammals. The IUCN lists the four Asian species as critically endangered. Tens of thousands of pangolins are poached yearly, killed for their scales for use in traditional Chinese medicine and meat, a delicacy among some ultra-wealthy in China and Vietnam. The four African species are listed as vulnerable to endangered.
Ultimately, all species face declining populations because of illegal trade, electrocution by electric fences, road mortalities, and habitat loss.
Why are pangolins hunted or poached?
Pangolin scales consist of keratin, a substance found in fingernails, hair, and horns. Despite lacking any substantiated medicinal properties, these scales are utilised in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicine to try and combat ailments such as arthritis, lactation, tumours and ulcers. Additionally, pangolins are hunted for their meat, be it for bushmeat or selling pangolin meat as fine delicacies in Asia.
How many pangolins are left in the world?
Depending on their species and region, pangolins are classified as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable. While many organisations and researchers are working on studies to share more insights on the overall pangolin population, these insights are usually localised to specific regions and pangolins. Furthermore, due to the elusive and nocturnal nature of pangolins, it is challenging to provide an exact number of how many pangolins are left in the world. What we do know though is that sightings of pangolins are becoming rarer and rarer which is obviously not a good sign.
What is being done to protect pangolins from extinction?
Despite all species of pangolins being banned from international commercial trade, much work and conservation still go into stopping the killing, trafficking and demand for pangolins. Conservation initiatives include:
○ Reducing the demand for pangolin scales and meat through targeted campaigns.
○ Enforcement of anti-poaching units.
○ Combating trafficking through international and local law enforcement, public education and awareness, community engagement, and conservation planning.
How can people help in pangolin conservation efforts?
The key to pangolin conservation is to raise awareness about pangolins. This can be done by sharing reliable and well-researched information on social media and with friends and families. Additionally, donating to verified pangolin-centred NGOs / NPOs goes incredibly far in Pangolin conservation.
For example, when donating to Pangolin.Africa, all funds contribute towards much-needed research of the four African species of pangolins and implementing protection and rehabilitation projects on the ground.
Can pangolins be kept as pets?
Not only is it illegal to keep pangolins as pets, but pangolins are also solitary animals, and they can be easily stressed when they encounter another large animal – including a human – so even approaching them can be detrimental to their health.
What should you do if you see a pangolin in the wild?