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The Story Of Wild Animals:
 Story Of The Raccoon

 Story Of The Cobego

 Story Of The Gazelle

 Story Of The Chameleon

 Story Of The Fossa

 Story Of The Walrus

 Story Of The Mole

 Story Of The Pangolin

 Story Of The Opossum

 Story Of The Caffre Cat

 Read More Articles About: The Story Of Wild Animals

Story Of The Pangolin

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

In Africa, south of the Sahara desert and in some parts of India, I have often come across an animal which always made me think of a huge pine cone supplied with a head and legs. This animal is known as the pangolin, which feeds upon ants, although belonging to a different family from the true ant-eaters. The whole upper surface of the body, the sides and the tail are covered with large overlapping horny scales. The limbs are short, with five toes. Its long worm-like tongue is capable of being extended a great distance from its mouth.

The largest pangolins reach a length of six feet. They are burrowing animals, and are only abroad at night. They can roll themselves in a ball like the other ant-eaters, and when they are thus rolled up their muscular strength is something enormous.

Asia is inhabited by three species of the family, namely, the Indian pangolin, confined to India and Ceylon ; the Chinese pangolin, ranging from, Nipal and Assam to China; and the Malayan pangolin, inhabiting the regions to the westward of the Bay of Bengal as far as Celebes, and also occurring in North-Eastern India.

The habits of all the three kinds are similar, although the Malayan species is probably less of a burrower than the others. The Indian pangolin dwells either among the crevices and clefts of rocks, or in burrows of its own construction; such burrows extending to a depth of from eight to twelve feet below the surface, and ending in a large chamber, which may be as much as six feet in diameter. Here a pair of these animals take up their abode, and in the winter or early spring give birth to their young. The young, which are one or two in number, are covered with soft scales at birth, which harden on the second day, but it does not appear to be ascertained whether they are born blind. When inhabited, the entrance to the burrow is stopped with earth; and it is rarely that its occupants are seen abroad after sunrise. The food consists chiefly of termites; the pangolin tearing open the nests of these insects with its powerful front claws, and thrusting its long glutinous tongue into their runs. The tongue is rapidly withdrawn with a swarm of the white ants clinging to it. In captivity pangolins will readily eat finely-chopped raw meat, hard-boiled eggs, and rice. Their stomachs have a somewhat gizzard-like structure; and frequently contain a few small pebbles, probably introduced to aid in triturating the food. In captivity pangolins drink freely by rapidly extending and withdrawing the tongue: I doubt whether this habit is natural to them, as they are often found in places where there is no water. When irritated, pangolins will give vent to a hissing sound, but at other times they are silent.

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