Pangolin - The armored mamal
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Pangolin - The armored mamal

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Description
The Ground Pangolin (Manis temminckii), also known as Temminck’s Pangolin or the Cape Pangolin, is one of four species of pangolin which can be found in Africa.
They are the only one found in southern and eastern Africa. Although it is present over quite a large area, it is rare throughout it and notoriously difficult to spot.
Its scarcity is partly because it is hunted by humans for its scales, which are used in love charms, and partly because it is often burnt in bush fires.

 

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Eight different pangolin species can be found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Poaching for illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss have made these incredible creatures one of the most endangered groups of mammals in the world.

With the exception of the underside, it is covered in extremely hard scales. When threatened, it usually will roll up into a ball to protect the vulnerable belly. The scales on the tail can also be used as blades to slash at attackers.
The Ground Pangolin can grow to a length of about 40 inches, with the tail typically between 12 and 20 inches. It has a disproportionately small head, powerful hind legs, and small forelegs.

Like other pangolin species, it is largely nocturnal, although it is also entirely terrestrial and usually found in savanna or open woodland, generally feeding on termites or ants.
It is well adapted to this, with a very long sticky tongue which is stored inside a pocket in the mouth until needed.
Although it is capable of digging its own burrow, it prefers to occupy disused holes dug by a Warthog or an Aardvark or to lie in dense vegetation, making it even more difficult to observe.
Their armor-plated scales are also capable of a cutting action—worked by powerful muscles—that inflicts serious wounds on anything inserted between the scales.

 

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Pangolins’ insatiable appetite for insects gives them an important role in their ecosystem: pest control. Estimates indicate that one adult pangolin can consume more than 70 million insects annually.
Pangolins have special muscles that seal their nostrils and ears shut, protecting them from attacking insects. They also have special muscles in their mouths which prevent ants and termites from escaping after capture.

Believed to be the world's most trafficked animal, a single pangolin can fetch as much as $7,000 (£4,300) on the black market.



Quick Facts
•Scientific name  - Giant Ground Pangolin (Manis gigantea), African  (Manis tricuspis),Common (Manis temminckii)
•Weight                    -  30 to 40 lb. (Common Pangolin)
•Size                         - 12 to 39 in. long depending on the species
•Life span                 - 20 years
•Habitat                     - Dense forest to forested savannas
•Diet                          - Insectivorous
•Gestation                - 5 months
•Predators                - Leopards, hyenas, humans



Habitat

Pangolins prefer sandy soils and can be found in woodlands and savannas that are within reach of water. It is found naturally in tropical regions throughout Africa and Asia.
Four pangolin species occur across Asia: the Indian pangolin, the Chinese or Formosan pangolin, the Malayan or Sunda pangolin, and the Palawan pangolin.
Four species are found in Africa south of the Sahara Desert: the Cape or ground pangolin, the tree pangolin, the giant pangolin, and the long-tailed pangolin.



Diet
Pangolins lack teeth and the ability to chew. Instead, they tear open anthills or termite mounds with their powerful front claws and probe deep into them with their very long tongues.
Pangolins have glands in their chests to lubricate the tongue with sticky, ant-catching saliva.
Some species, such as the tree pangolin, use their strong, prehensile tails to hang from tree branches and strip away bark from the trunk, exposing insect nests inside.



Breeding
Gestation is 120–150 days. African pangolin females usually give birth to a single offspring at a time, but the Asiatic species can give birth from one to three.
Weight at birth is 80–450 g (3–18 ounces), and the scales are initially soft. The young cling to the mother's tail as she moves about, although in burrowing species, they remain in the burrow for the first two to four weeks of life.
Weaning takes place at around three months of age, and pangolins become sexually mature at two years

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Interesting facts
•A pangolin has large keratin scales covering its skin, and is the only known mammal with this adaptation.
•The scales are made of keratin, the same material of which human fingernails and tetrapod claws are made.
•The name, pangolin, comes from the Malay word, pengguling, meaning "something that rolls up".
•Wild pangolins locate insect nests using a well developed sense of smell and then is digging ants and termites from mounds, stumps, and fallen logs using with their claws and their extremely long sticky tongues to capture and eat them.
•The pangolin – unique among mammals because of its reptilian scales – is considered a delicacy in parts of Asia.
•Its scales are also used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat conditions that include inward-growing eyelashes, boils and poor circulation.

 

 

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Sources :
http://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/pangolin
http://upload.wikimedia.org
http://www.redorbit.com/education/reference_library/science_1/mammalia/2579776/ground_pangolin/
http://savepangolins.org/what-is-a-pangolin/
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/the-plight-of-the-pangolin-one-of-the-planets-most-extraordinary-and-intelligent-animals-is-being-hunted-to-extinction-8876471.html
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