Long-tailed Pangolin

Long-tailed pangolin in Nigeria
Long-tailed pangolin, Manis tetradactyla, Source: datuopinion.com

Long-tailed pangolin, Manis tetradactyla, have long prehensile tails that make up almost two-thirds of their total length, therefore having the longest tails and shortest bodies of the Pangolins, the only group of known mammals having keratin scales. They range in size from 30 to 40cm in length and 2 to 3 kg in weight. Their very long tails are 60 to 70cm long. In Nigeria, it has been recorded both in secondary rainforests, in altered forests (bush), and in farmlands of the southwest where it is called Akika by the Yoruba and utilized by the Awori and Ijebu extensively in traditional medicinal practices. This species occur widely in the Niger Delta.

Long-tailed pangolins are primarily arboreal, and it spends only short periods of its life in pools and rivers where it is surprisingly also capable. Pangolins tend to be shy, solitary, and unsociable creatures, and slow and deliberate movers. When confronted, they will roll up into a ball with the sharp-edged scales offering protection, and movements of the tail and scales deter predators. The Long-tailed pangolin can move bipedally. Unlike the Giant pangolin, their diet does not consist largely of termites, but ants, which are usually caught with their very long and sticky tongue. Also distinct from the larger arboreal species, called the Tree pangolin, by its preference to forage in the day, a behavior that forestalls competition between the two tree-dwelling pangolin species. Only a single offspring is produced after gestation period of about 140 days and may live for about 13 years if in captivity.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer