The rare and almost mythical Pangolin, a creature many are most likely unfamiliar to and I am here to change that. This summer I was taught quite a bit about the Pangolin by one of my campers who is a passionate activist for these pine cone creatures. After doing some of my own research I feel the need to share my knowledge of the Pangolin with everyone.
So What is a Pangolin?
Just combine an anteater and armadillo, and there you have it. Well, to be more specific, the pangolin is a nocturnal animal that is often referred to as the "scaly anteater" because their appearance is similar to anteaters minus the large scales covering its body. They are even sometimes confused with lizards because of their scales but they really are mammals.The pangolin's diet consists of ants and termites which is also similar to the anteater. Fun fact, the pangolin is not even related to the anteater or the sloth but more like carnivore creatures. I can't just leave with you with one simple fun fact, so here are six more reasons to love pangolins.
Fun Pangolin Facts!
1. There are 8 types of Pangolins. Four of the types are Asian pangolins they are the; Chinese, Malayan, Indian, Palawan. While the other are African pangolins; the Tree pangolin, Giant ground pangolin, Cape pangolin and Long-tailed pangolin. The picture below shows how different each species from each other and it is truly amazing.
2. Pangolin's tongues can be as long as their own body. Yes, you read that right. They use their extremely long tongues to eat ants and termites. Due to the fact that they do not have teeth, their sticky tongues can latch onto whatever the pangolin plans on eating.
Pretty cool right?
3. They are the only mammal to be completely covered in scales. Their scales are extremely strong and make up 20% of the pangolins weight. Their scales keep them safe from nearly every animal that thinks they'd make a tasty meal.
4. Baby pangolins ride on their mother's tails by holding onto their scales and stay with them for 3-4 months. It's basically the cutest thing in the entire world.
5. They eat a lot of bugs. It is estimated that pangolins consume 70 million insects per year. (Thanks to those sticky tongues)
6. When threatened they curl up into a ball to protect themselves. If they are caught they will thrash with their tails. Due to the fact their scales are so hard and sharp, they can hurt their attacker. On top of that, they will also release a horrible smelling fluid from their glands.
For more facts about Pangolins go to http://www.pangolins.org/2012/02/18/25-facts-about... .
When thinking about endangered species many instantly think of elephants or rhinos, but not pangolins. However, pangolins are one the most poached animal species in the entire world. They are highly sought after and considered a delicacy in some countries. While also being extremely popular in restaurants they are also caught and killed for their scales. The scales are believed to have magical powers but what people do not seem to realize is that the scales are just keratin, the substance which our own fingernails are made out of. Watch this video to get an idea of the seriousness of pangolin hunting http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/28/opinions/sutter-pang... .
Humans are the number 1 predator to pangolins, because of their hard exterior they are safe from nearly every creature they may face but not humans. Between 2011 and 2013 an estimated 116,990-233,980 pangolins were killed . I believe that we can spread the word on the pangolin to make people realize that they are real animals and that they deserve to be cared about as much any other.
There is Hope
In September 2016, all commercial trade on pangolins was banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Even with this monumental ban there were will still be poaching on them. However, this is a step in the right direction in order for us to save our pine cone friends. I believe full heartedly that we can help save these creatures. If everyone can spread the world we can help bring light on the pangolin.
I hope after reading this you will have a greater appreciation for this odd animal. I'm disappointed I went 21 years of my life never knowing what a pangolin was. This is why I'm hoping to shed some light on this elusive creature and show the greatness of the pangolin.