Pangolins have an excellent sense of smell, used to find their insect prey. Little is known about intraspecific communication, but they are likely to use smells, visual cues, sounds, and touch.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Temminck's pangolins are vulnerable to population decreases because of their great economic value to humans and habitat loss to agriculture. In addition to being killed for their flesh and scales, they have several predators including lions and hyenas, are subject to brush fires, and may become electrocuted in areas where such fencing exists. (Kingdon 1997)
US Federal List: endangered
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
There are no adverse effects of pangolins on humans.
Temminck's pangolins are killed by natives in Africa for their scales and meat. The scales are taken for use in various jewelry and art. They are exported to China where the scales are prized for their supposed medicinal value as an antiseptic. The skins are also sent legally to the United States and other countries for the manufacture of leather goods, such as boots and shoes. (Nowak 1999)
Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; source of medicine or drug
Temminck's pangolins are important predators of colonial insects in the ecosystems in which they live.
The diet of the Temminck's pangolin consists mainly of termites and ants, with an occasional larvae or other soft bodied insect. Ant or termite hills are discovered through the pangolin's keen sense of smell, then dismantled by its long and powerful forelimbs. The pangolin then catches the fleeing insects by flicking its long tongue in and out. It has no teeth, so the stomach has exceptionally thick muscular walls for crushing the food items, which are swallowed whole. A pangolin may also swallow stones and store them in the stomach to aid in the crushing part of the digestion. (Nowak 1999)
Animal Foods: insects
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )
The Temminck's pangolin, or Cape pangolin, has a range similar to a backwards "c" stretching from Chad and Sudan in central Africa, down through Kenya and Tanzania, to the northern parts of South Africa. (Kingdon 1997)
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
This species will inhabit both high- and low-rainfall habitats, including forests, thick brush, or open grasslands and savannah.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest
This species measures approximately 40 - 70 cm head and body length, and about the same for the tail. Males are larger than the females.
The name of the Order of these animals, Pholidota, means, "scaled animals". The body of the Temminck's pangolin is covered with moveable, sharp scales, except for the snout, chin, throat, sides of the face, and the belly. The coloration of these scales gives this species a dark olive brown look similar to that of a pine cone and helps it to blend into many different surroundings.
Temminck's pangolins have small, pointed heads with small eyes that are protected by specialized thick eyelids. It lacks teeth, but has a very long (up to 25 cm in length and 0.5 cm in diameter) and sticky tongue for catching insects. This species also has a specialized stomach for digesting food items that have not been chewed. It has five long claws on the end of each limb and the tail is prehensile. (Minelli et al. 1997, Macdonald 1985)
Range mass: 7 to 18 kg.
Range length: 40 to 70 cm.
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Pangolins use their thick, keratinized scales and powerful muscles to roll their bodies into nearly impenetrable balls. Few predators will try to capture them, although some large predators may.
Individuals live a solitary life, only joining others during mating. Because of their excellent sense of smell, the social interactions of pangolins revolve around advertisement through the spreading of feces and the marking of trees with either urine or a secretion from an anal gland. Males may also battle fiercely for the opportunity to mate with a female.
Mating System: polygynous
Temminck's pangolins have a gestation period of about 139 days, resulting in usually one young weighing 200 - 500 grams. They are born in an underground natural shelter, and are first carried outside on the mother's back or tail at between 2 and 4 weeks of age. The young begin to harvest their own food by 3 months of age, but are still carried until they are approximately 3 kg. The females breed at any time of the year, even if they are currently rearing young. (Kingdon 1997, Macdonald 1985)
Breeding interval: The interbirth interval is unknown.
Breeding season: Pangolins breed throughout the year.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average gestation period: 139 days.
Average weaning age: 3 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); viviparous
Female pangolins care exclusively for their young, nursing, carrying, and protecting them until they have nearly reached adult size.
Parental Investment: female parental care
The ground pangolin (Manis temminckii), also known as Temmnick’s Pangolin or the Cape Pangolin, is one of four species of pangolin which can be found in Africa and the only one in southern and eastern Africa. The Pangolin measures over 1 m in length and weighs up to 18 Kg. The body is protected by armour of imbricated brown scales, which uniquely identifies this species amongst all mammals. Except for the forehead, there are no scales on the head or belly, or on the inner surfaces of the legs.
Since Pangolins are entirely insectivorous, an abundant availability of ants and termites to sustain subsistence, governs its occurrence. Another factor determining occurrence is the availability of burrows or other forms of shelter. They feed predominantly on formicid ants. Pangolins appear to be highly selective feeders in that only 19 species of ants and termites are taken.
It locates prey by smell, even under the soil surface. When prey is located, tunnels are opened up with the well-equipped front paws. The 250 mm long, rod-shaped tongue is covered with sticky saliva. This is used as a tool to collect prey by inserting it into the termite tunnels. When withdrawn it is covered with trapped prey which is gathered into the mouth.
In South Africa the ground pangolin ranges over most of the former eastern, northern and western Transvaal, northern KwaZulu-Natal, and north-eastern Cape, from where its distribution continues into neighbouring countries.
Temminck's Ground Pangolin (Manis temminckii, or Smutsia temminckii if Smutsia is treated as a genus rather than a subgenus) has, like other pangolins, a long muscular tail and horny scales covering its body, which protect it when it rolls up into a ball in a defensive posture. Temminck's Ground Pangolin is found in a wide range of habitat types, but is only found where abundant ants and termites of a few specific types occur, possibly explaining its absence from Ethiopia and West Africa (these insects account for most of the diet). Young Temminck's Ground Pangolins (only one offspring is born at a time) are not very active for the first month or so after birth, but subsequently ride on the mother's back or tail base, slipping onto her belly when alarmed. (Kingdon 1997)