Chinese Pangolin, Manis pentadactyla

The Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is a species of pangolin that can be found in Bhutan, India, and Nepal and from northern areas of Indochina to southern areas of China and most areas of Taiwan. This species resides in forests and spends most of its time on the ground, although it has been found in trees at elevations of up to twenty feet. It is thought that this species was one of the famous pets of the Raven FACs, named The Critter.

The Chinese pangolin reaches an average body length of two feet, with a tail length of up to seven inches and weight of about five pounds. It has hard scales along its body, which help protect it against predators. This species is secretive and calm in nature and is active during the nighttime hours. In Nepal, this species breeds between the months of April and May, producing one young that is born with soft scales that harden within two days of birth. Young pangolins can walk from their first day, but their mothers will carry them around on their tails or backs, which helps them curl up in a ball, surrounding the young when danger is present.

The Chinese pangolin is a burrowing species that is capable of digging up to eight feet within five minutes, although it will inhabit abandoned burrows that have been previously constructed. Once inside a burrow, it will close off the opening in order to protect itself. This species mainly consumes ants and termites, using its strong claws to dig into colonies and its tongue to extract the insects.

In Hong Kong and Vietnam, the Chinese pangolin is hunted on a large scale as a delicacy, although they are legally protected. This species is also threatened by habitat loss. Currently, it appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Endangered.”

Image Caption:  A pangolin (Manis pentadactyla). Credit: verdammelt/Wikipedia  (CC BY-SA 2.0)