Pangolins are adorable and unusual animals, and everyone has probably heard about them, but how much do you know about them? Here are 11 fun facts about these wonderful animals.
1. Pangolins have extraordinarily long tongues. Think of how long you think they might be, and they’re probably longer. The pangolin’s tongue begins near their pelvis and when fully extended, are much longer than their entire bodies.
2. When pangolins are in danger or under stress, they roll up in a tight ball (like a pill bug). Their name comes from this behavior, derived from “pengguling” in Malay, meaning “rolling up”.
3. The most prominent predators to pangolins are big cats, like lions and tigers, as well as hyenas. However, more often than not, the pangolin’s natural defense of rolling up into a ball keeps them completely safe and the predators will simply leave the pangolin alone after trying hard and not being able to get to them within their shells.
4. Male pangolins are up to 90% heavier than female pangolins.
5. Pangolins are the only animal on Earth that is covered head to toe in scales, which are made of keratin, the same substance as nails and rhino horns. Their scales form 20% of their body weight.
6. Pangolins’ scales grow continuously throughout their lives, like hair, but their scales are ground down by the dirt as they dig looking for termites.
7. In the first few months of the baby pangolins’ lives, their mothers carry them around on their tails. Pangolins stay with their mothers for the first half year, and cling onto her tail for half of that.
8. Pangolins use their tails for more than carrying their children, too. Some pangolins are arboreal and, like monkeys, use their tails as a prehensile fifth limb while climbing and for balance.
9. These adorable little animals may be small, but they need to eat tons of ants every day. On average, pangolins eat about 20,000 ants per day. That means that they eat millions of ants every year.
10. Pangolins can close their nostrils and ears while digging for ants to stay safe from ant attacks. They have to use very strong muscles to do this.
11. There are eight species of pangolins who live across Africa and Asia. Unfortunately, all of these species are in danger, with many of them with a vulnerable status and, unfortunately, many of them critically endangered.
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