THE RARELY SEEN PANGOLIN

Photographs by Leslie Hall
These were taken with a simple, easy to use camera, (Canon Power Shot S2IS) with no special lenses.

Rarely seen Pangolin

 

Pangolin

Pangolins (scaly anteaters) have large keratin scales covering their skin and are the only mammals with this adaptation. They are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The name "pangolin" derives from the Malay word pengguling ("something that rolls up").

The size of pangolins varies by species, ranging from 30 cm to 100 cm (12 to 39 inches). Females are generally smaller than males.

The tongues of pangolins are extremely elongated and extend into the abdominal cavity. By convergent evolution pangolins, the giant anteater, and the tube-lipped nectar bat, all have tongues which are unattached to their hyoid bone and extend past their pharynx deep into the thorax.  This extension lies between the sternum and the trachea. Large pangolins can extend their tongues as much as 40 cm (16 inches), with a diameter of only 0.5 cm (1/4 inch).

Pangolin

The physical appearance of pangolins is marked by large, hardened, plate-like scales. The scales, which are soft on newborn pangolins but harden as the animal matures, are made of keratin, the same material of which human fingernails are made. The front claws are so long that they are unsuited for walking, and so the animal walks with its fore paws curled over to protect them. Pangolins can also emit a noxious smelling acid from glands near the anus, similar to the spray of a skunk. Pangolins have short legs, with sharp claws which they use for burrowing into termite and ant mounds, as well as climbing.

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.

Pangolin

 

 

Some species, such as the Tree Pangolin, use their strong tails to hang from tree branches and strip away bark from the trunk, exposing insect nests inside.

Arboreal pangolins live in hollow trees, whereas the ground dwelling species dig tunnels underground, up to a depth of 3.5 m (11 feet). Pangolins are also good swimmers.

Pangolin

 

 

 

The pangolin is often compared to a walking pine cone or globe artichoke. It can curl up into a ball when threatened, with its overlapping scales acting as armour and its face tucked under its tail. The scales are razor-sharp, providing extra defence.—Wikipedia