What do pangolins do?

Pangolins are an important regulator of termite populations in their natural habitats. Pangolins have very poor vision. They also lack teeth. They rely heavily on smell and hearing, and they have other physical characteristics to help them eat ants and termites.

While writing we ran into the question “What type of animal is a pangolin?”.

Pangolins, sometimes known as scaly anteaters, are mammals of the order Pholidota (/ f ɒ l ɪ ˈ d oʊ t ə /, from Ancient Greek ϕολιδωτός – “clad in scales”). The one extant family, the Manidae, has three genera: Manis, Phataginus, and Smutsia.

One thought is that a pangolin rolled into a ball presenting erected scales to the enemy. All pangolin species have been hunted for their meat, and the organs, skin, scales, and other parts of the body are valued for their use in traditional medicine.

Some believe that like anteaters, pangolins have long snouts and even longer tongues, which they use to lap up ants and termites they excavate from mounds with their powerful front claws. They’re able to close their noses and ears to keep ants out when they’re eating.

What is being done to save pangolins?

Lisa and her team at the Tikki Hywood Trust address each one.

One thought is that pangolins are extremely difficult to maintain in captivity, and most die within a short period after capture. Conservation efforts must emphasize stopping the removal of pangolins from the wild.

A common inquiry we ran across in our research was “How can we prevent poaching of pangolins in China?”.

Public efforts to prevent poaching of pangolins in China are gaining traction, such as this PSA featuring Jackie Chan, produced through a partnership between WildAid and The Nature Conservancy. If playback doesn’t begin shortly, try restarting your device.

We learned Your donations support the most effective pangolin conservation projects in Africa and Asia. We have partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Network, a top-rated non-profit organization, which sends 100% of donations directly to Save Pangolins.

Why are pangolins important to the ecosystem?

Pangolins’ insatiable appetite for insects gives them an important role in their ecosystem: pest control. Estimates indicate that one adult pangolin can consume more than 70 million insects annually. Pangolins have special muscles that seal their nostrils and ears shut, protecting them from attacking insects.

Aside from the general importance of preserving animal species for the future, pangolins play a critically important “housekeeping” role in their ecosystems. A single pangolin can consume as many as 70 million insects per year! A hundred pangolins can consume seven trillion insects per year.

What to do if you see a pangolin being sold?

Contact your local authorities or conservation groups who will be able to offer advice. This will ensure that trafficking laws can be properly enforced and endangered populations are guarded.