Pangolin [Manis temminckii]
The pangolin is a very strange looking creature that is covered in bony scale plates. This animal reaches 1m in length and weighs 18kg. The head of the pangolin is the only part not covered in scales, as well as the underside. It has well developed claws that allow it to dig effortlessly. It’s broad tail tapers to a rounder tip.
The Pangolin is an insectivore that primarily feasts on ant and termite mounds. Pangolins are rather picky and only feed on 19 different species of ants and termites. It has a long sticky rod-shaped tongue that it sticks into ant and termite mounds to grab its prey. Its tongue is slender and flexible enough to navigate the narrow tunnels of these mounds.
Pangolins breed pair for 2 days to during March. Females give birth to a single baby after a gestation period of 135 days. Young are suckled in their dens and are left there while the female goes foraging. Young are constantly moved during the first month to protect it.
Pangolins are very well equipped for defence, with their thick bony armour. When threatened, they curl up into a ball to protect its head and uncovered body from attackers. They have a gland very similar to a skunk that it uses to spray its attacker. Up close, it uses its sharp claws to slash at its enemies. They can run at speeds of 5km/h by running on its rear feet and using its tail to balance.
These animals prefer savannah woodlands but can also be seen in grasslands, sandveld and rocky slopes. The Pangolin is a rather rare sighting during a Kruger Park Safari.