Pangolins are truly one-of-a-kind animals as they are the only mammals on Earth with scales! Unfortunately, this unique feature for their protection from predators has made them the most heavily trafficked mammal in the world.
Each year up to 2.7 million pangolins are poached from the wild across Africa and Asia. Their scales (which comprise 20% of their body weight) and meat are used for food, leather goods, and medicine. Because of this, these adorable, shy, reclusive animals were officially added to the endangered species list in 2012. Greater Good Charities’ Project Peril program is dedicated to protecting biodiversity and species on the brink of extinction, like the pangolin.
This enclosure helps to recover the species and allows researchers to learn about these special animals. Thanks to generous donors like you, Greater Good Charities built an enclosure for rescued pangolins in Vietnam in partnership with Wildlife at Risk.
Pangolins are at-risk due to human activities, which makes learning about their unique species one of the best ways we can help protect them. There are a lot of reasons we’re passionate about protecting pangolins, but here are 7 interesting facts you (probably) didn’t know about the special animal that is the pangolin:
1. 'Pangolin' Means Roller
These little cuties get their name from 'penggulung,' the Malay word for roller, which is the action a pangolin takes in self-defense. A startled pangolin will cover its head with its front legs, exposing its scales to any potential predator.
2. Pangolins Are More Closely Related To Cats Than Anteaters
While pangolins are sometimes referred to as ‘scaly anteaters’, that is only a physical descriptor. Pangolins are smaller than anteaters and covered in thick, scaly skin while anteaters are covered in hair. As mammals, pangolin DNA is closer to cats and dogs!
3. Baby Pangolins are called PANGOPUPS
These pangopups are born covered in soft, white scales that harden after a couple of days. A baby pangolin will ride on its mother's tail by clinging to her scales! How sweet!
4. Pangolins Help Control The Insect Population
Pangolins play an important role in the ecosystems by feeding on the insects necessary to keep soils aerated and fertile. They mainly feed on ants, termites, and larvae. A single pangolin eats as many as 70 million insects per year. They’re basically a natural pest control for the Earth!
5. Pangolin Tongues Are Longer Than Their Bodies
To get all those tiny insects, pangolins have long, sticky tongues that are actually longer than their bodies! Their tongues can be up to 28 inches - all the better to eat those tasty ants.
© Save Vietnams Wildlife
6. Pangolins Live In A Variety Of Habitats
The eight species of pangolins are native to Africa and Asia. Some species like to tree-climb and make homes in hollow trees, while others prefer to dig deep burrows and nest there. Unfortunately, their habitats continue to shrink and be destroyed due to human actions.
7. Pangolins Have Been Around For 80 Million Years
Pangolins are prehistoric mammals and have been around for 80 million years. That means pangolins have been around since before humans developed written history! This is just another reason why their endangered status is so heartbreaking.
Did you eat this blog up like a hungry pangolin at a termite buffet? Take our Pangolin Trivia Quiz to test your knowledge and maybe even learn something new!
Pangolin Trivia Quiz