141. Pangolin


Pangolin is a scaly ant eater which resembles a “walking pine cone ” and
” a globe artichoke!” It is a mammal of the order of Pholidota. It is the only mammal with large scales covering its skin. It is found in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Malay “pengguling” means something that rolls up!

It is nocturnal and uses its sense of smell to locate the insects. It spends most of the day time sleeping, curled up into a ball! Large, hard, plate-like scales mark its appearance. Now born pangolin has soft scales which harden as the animal matures. When threatened it curls up to a ball. The razor sharp scales give extra protection.

It can emit a noxious smelling acid from the gland near the anus, like a skunk. It has short legs and sharp claws useful to dig into termite and ant hills and in climbing.The length of a pangolin varies from 30 c.m to 100 c.m, depending on the species. Females are smaller than males.

Pangolin’s long tongue extends into its abdominal cavity. Large pangolin can extend its tongue to 16 inches length and one fourth inch thickness. It has no teeth and cannot chew food. Its tongue is coated with a sticky saliva to which all the insects get stuck.

A coat of Armour made of pangolin scales was presented to George III in 1820, as a rare and unusual gift!

Pangolin is eaten as a delicacy in Africa and China. Popular beliefs suggest that the scales can reduce the swellings, promote blood circulation and increase the production of milk in nursing mothers.

Pangolin is hunted down or smuggled alive for its meat and hide, pushing it to near extinction!

Visalakshi Ramani

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