Giant Pangolin

Giant Pangolin

Giant pangolin, Manis gigantean, the largest of pangolins; the only known mammals with keratin scales, which are usually colored brown or reddish-brown. Like other pangolins, it also has short powerful legs with strong, curved claws for digging. The presence of this species in Nigeria is unclear but sightings have been reported in the southwest.

Pangolins have small heads and long, broad tails. They are toothless and have no external ears, although their hearing is good. Their sense of scent is well-developed, but their sight is poor. The weight of the scales and skin make up about 20 percent of the pangolin’s weight. Male body length is about 55 inches and female about 47 inches. The animal rests its weight on its columnar rear legs when walking. It balances with its tail to walk on two feet. This solitary and nocturnal species leaves their burrows after midnight to feed. They break open termite mounds by leaning on the mound and resting their weight on their tail, and then ripping into the mound with their front claws.

Pangolins’ insatiable appetite for insects gives them an important role in their ecosystem: pest control. When threatened, pangolins can coil in a ball to protect their vulnerable under belly as well as emitting a foul smelling spray from their anal gland.