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Friday, April 06, 2007

Favorite Mammal Episode II: The Pangolin

Episode two of the 2002 BBC series Life of Mammals is entitled "Insect Hunters" and it takes a look at various shrews (woodland and water), moles, hedgehogs, anteaters and bats (essentially shrews with wings). Of these, one of the most interesting to me is the African Pangolin (pictured at left, courtesy of the African Wildlife Foundation). A body covered with hard keratin scales give it the look of a small dinosaur as it ambles along on its hind legs.

Here are a few interesting facts about Pangolins:
  • They are toothless
  • Their ears have special valves to keep ants out
  • They roll themselves into a ball to defend themselves
  • They have anal scent glands like skunks
  • They swallow small stones to help their digestion
  • They have very long tongues (up to 16 inches) and sticky saliva

You can read more about Pangolins at:

AWF Pangolin Page
Answers.com Pangolin Page

Other cool little insect hunters (linked to more info):

The Golden Mole (a "sand swimmer")
The Star-nosed Mole (has 22 little "arms" protruding from its nose)
The Sengi or Elephant Shrew (creates tidy trails on which it sprints to evade predators)
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