The first time I saw a photo of a pangolin, I had one thought- doesn’t it look like a pine fruit that came to life? The texture of the animal’s skin still manages to fascinate me.
Is your little one too, fascinated by these creatures? If that is the case, you might want to read him or her, these amazing pangolin facts we have listed in this article.
Pangolins are also known as scaly anteaters. These are species that physically look striking because of their scaly skin. One of the weirdest looking mammals, pangolins don’t get as much attention. So let’s jump into the article and learn some amazing facts about them.
11 Interesting & Fun Pangolin Facts for Kids That Will Leave Your Little One in Awe
Pangolins are those creatures of nature that people do not know a lot about. We do not get to read about them as much as we get to read and learn about other animals.
What is sad about these mammals is that they are classified as Critically Endangered species. So why are they endangered animals? Let us find out-
1. Pangolins are the only mammals that are covered with scales
The most interesting fact about the pangolins is the way they look. These animals are mammals and are the only ones that are covered with scales from head to toe.
These scales are made from keratin. This is the same protein as our nails and hair! They are covered totally from head to toe except for their undersides, which have some hair. Their scales make up about 20% of their weights.
2. There are 8 species of Pangolins
There are a total of 8 different known species of pangolins on earth. Of the eight, four are found in Asia– the Thick-tailed Pangolin in India, the Philippine Pangolin, the Sunda Pangolin and the Chinese Pangolin.
The other four species are found in Africa– African White-bellied Pangolin, the Giant Ground Pangolin, The Cape Pangolin, and the Long Tailed Pangolin.
3. Their name is derived from the Malay word ‘pengguling’
The word, ‘pangolin’, is derived from the Malay word ‘pengguling’ which means ‘something that rolls up.’
This fits perfectly with the animal’s name as it chooses to curl up into a ball-like structure when it is in danger. Their scaly exterior bodies help them in being safe from predators like lions, tigers or bears.
4. Pangolins’ tongues can be as long as 40 cm, longer than their bodies
Pangolins are insectivores. This means that their diet mainly consists of insects, ants and larvae. To help them with that, their tongues have evolved to become very long; sometimes as long as 40 cm, which is longer than their own bodies.
Their saliva is extremely sticky which makes it easier for them to use their tongues to trap bugs, insects and larvae.
5. The males can be 90% heavier than the females
Usually, when it comes to animals, the males are generally larger in size than the females, barring a few exceptions. However, what is fascinating about the pangolins is that the males can often be 90% heavier than the females!
6. Their tails can be used as a weapon
The pangolins often use their tails as a weapon to ward off predators. This, adding on their expert defence mechanism of rolling up into a ball; makes them safe from all sorts of predators.
7. They do not have any teeth
Pangolins do not have any teeth. Their lower stomach is lined with strange spine-like protrusions that point inwards to the center of the organ. The insects are broke up by stones and keratin spines in the stomach.
8. They are the most trafficked animals in the world
The greatest threat to pangolins is, unfortunately, humans. Pangolins are the most trafficked animals in the whole world. Apparently, one pangolin is taken away from the wild every 5 minutes!
This is extremely unfortunate as that is what led to the animal being included in the Endangered Species List.
9. They can voluntarily constrict their ears and nostrils
As already mentioned before, pangolins are insectivores. They burrow deep into the ground or tree barks to eat the insects. While doing that, they need to make sure that they do not sniff in the insects.
As a result, they are able to constrict their noses and nostrils. This allows them to use their massive tongue to catch their prey. It is said that a single pangolin consumes more than 70 million insects a year!
10. The pangolin babies ride their mother’s backs
Pangolins are mammals and give birth to their babies. These babies are about 3-16 ounces and their mothers carry them on their tails. They stay with the mothers for a few months before leaving to be on their own. The scales on the newly born pangolins are soft but they harden up pretty fast.
11. Pangolins sense of their hearing and vision is quite poor
Pangolins have a great sense of smell. That is what they use to look for insects. However, their senses of hearing and vision are extremely poor. But that does not become any kind of a hindrance to these animals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Where do pangolins live?
Pangolins live in a variety of habitats, from tropical forests to aid deserts. They prefer living in sandy soils where they can make burrows and are close to water.
Q. What do pangolins eat?
Pangolins are insectivores. A single pangolin consumes around 70 million insects. They eat all kinds of bugs, insects, termites, larvae and other insects.
Q. What countries do pangolins live in?
Pangolins are mostly found in Africa and Asia. This includes countries like India, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Bhutan. They are dispersed around East and Central Africa as well.
Q. Why are pangolins endangered?
Pangolins are the animals that are trafficked the most. They are hunted for various reasons. This includes meat, traditional medicines and fashion accessories.
Q. How many pangolins are left in the world?
It has been estimated that only about 50,000 pangolins are remaining in the wild as of now.
Q. Why is the pangolin important?
Pangolins are extremely important to the ecosystem of the world. Because they are insectivores, they are natural pest control. Also, they are great tenders to the soil.
Q. Do pangolins bite humans?
Pangolins are creatures with no teeth. Hence, it is not possible for them to bite humans. They are shy and docile creatures.
Q. Are pangolins poisonous?
No, pangolins are not poisonous at all. The only weapon a pangolin has is its scales.
Q. Are pangolins bulletproof?
No, pangolins are not bulletproof. But, their scales are hard enough that it protects them from being pierced.
Q. How long do pangolin babies stay with their mothers?
The pangolin babies stay with the mothers for a period of 6 months. They ride on the mothers’ tails.
Q. Do pangolins smell bad?
Generally, pangolins do not smell bad. However, they can secrete a foul-smelling odour from the glands near their anus. And they use this to mark their territories.
Q. What is the lifespan of a pangolin?
Pangolins in captivity can live up to 20 years. It is not known how long they can live in the wild.
Q. Can pangolins swim?
Yes, pangolins are capable swimmers and can swim long distances.
Q. Are pangolins intelligent?
Pangolins are very curious animals by nature and they are intelligent too.
Q. What is the largest pangolin in the world?
The Giant Pangolin is the largest pangolin species in the world and it can be about 4 feet long. They are found in Africa.
That was it, folks! I hope you enjoyed learning a thing or two about these fascinating mammals. We must do our best to make sure that these creatures do not become extinct. Humans are the biggest threat to these animals and we must all do our part in saving them. I hope these amazing pangolin facts managed to leave your kid in awe.