Pangolins are remarkable – from their behaviour to their adaptations – so we had to share these fantastic facts with you.
1) They eat over 20,000 ants a day but never get stung!
Pangolins spend the bulk of their day foraging for ants. With no teeth, the insects are ground down by stones (which have been swallowed by the pangolin) and keratin spines inside the creature’s stomach. Their thick eyelids and ability to close their nose stop them from being stung.
2) They can dig through ground as tough as concrete.
Pangolins have three claws on each foot. These tools enable the pangolin to rip into ant and termite nests. They can dig through earth as tough as concrete. Their claws also help them to climb trees and dig big burrows. Their burrow rooms are large enough for you to crawl inside and stand up in.
3) They are the only mammal in the world covered from head to toe in keratin scales.
Made from the same material as your nails and hair, keratin scales account for up to 20% of a pangolin’s entire weight. The scales play an important role in the animal’s defence mechanism. When threatened, they roll up into a tight ball, creating a hard, impenetrable surface. Not even the jaws of lions, tigers or leopards can get through.
4) Their tongues are longer than their bodies.
Pangolins have a long sticky tongue that extends over 40cm – even longer than their body. The tongue has to grow deep inside their chest cavity, and it rolls up when detracted. It is super-sticky and helps the pangolin catch an incredible 70 million insects every year.
5) Pangolin pups hitch a ride on their mother’s tails.
Our favourite fact of them all: cute pangolin babies ride on their mother’s tails for up to three months. They stay with their mum in her care for another two months, before going solo.
And one not so playful fact…
They are the most trafficked animal in the world.
Over two million pangolins have been caught in the wild. All eight species are targeted for their meat and for use in traditional Chinese medicine. The IUCN estimates that one is taken from the wild every five minutes!
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