A Pangolin is classified as a mammal although they are quite often misjudged as being a reptile due to their scaly appearance. These scales are actually made of keratin, just like human hair, and makes up about 15% of its total weight. The pangolin has quite good hearing although they don’t have external ears. They have a small head and a long broad tail. Pangolins also have no teeth but instead they have a gizzard-like stomach that, with the help of small stones and sand, grinds their food.
There is four kinds of pangolin: The Giant Pangolin, the Tree Pangolin, the Ground Pangolin and the Long-tailed Pangolin. These four species prefer sandy soils and are dispersed throughout Southern, Central and East Africa in the woodlands and savannas that are within reach of water.
The common pangolin weigh about 30 to 40 pounds and can reach a length of up to 39 inches long, depending on the specie. They have a life span of up to 20 years if not threaten by their biggest predators like leopards, hyenas and humans.
Pangolins are nocturnal and stays in their burrows during the day. They have a very good sense of smell which helps them to locate termite and ants nests which they dig from the ground using their claws and eats them with their extremely long tongue which can be up to 16 inches long. On their tongue they have large salivary glands with gummy mucus to which ants and termites stick to.
The Pangolins can protect themselves with their armour-plated scales that are capable of a cutting action and can wound anything inserted between the scales. They are also able to roll themselves into a ball as self-defence.
The female pangolin has a gestation period of 5 months. At birth a baby pangolin weighs about 12 ounces and is 6 inches long. Their scales start to harden by the second day. The baby pangolin gets nursed for 3 to four months of age but begins to eat termites at 1 month old.
It is believed that pangolins possess magic of charms and are therefore the worlds most trafficked animal. In order to protect the pangolin, the CITES committee banned all commercial trade against pangolin.