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Pangolin


Pangolin (banrui) armored, toothless mammal of genus Manis family Manidae, order Pholidota. Pangolins are not closely related to any other living mammals, and their ancestry is not known. There are seven species of pangolins worldwide, three in Asia. Bangladesh has all three species of Asian Pangolins. Also known as Scaly Anteater, M. crassicaudata is a critically endangered species in Bangladesh. The body colour is dark brown. Body and tail are stout while the tail is prehensile. Bristle-like hairs are scanty on the under surface of the body, but a few grow between the scales. The snout is narrow and pointed. It has a long sticky tongue; eyes and ears are small. Foreclaws are about twice the length of the hind claws. Head and body length is between 60-75 cm; the tail is about 45 cm long. The body is low and close to the ground and is covered with large, triangular, overlapping horny scales on the back, the sides, the outer sides of the limbs, and the entire tail.

Pangolin

The scales can be shed and replaced individually. The Malayan Pangolin, M. javanica when threatened, rolls itself into a ball and the scales become erect, pointed upward, so that it resembles a large pinecone. It also secretes a foul-smelling liquid. The other species M. pentadactyla has similar habits and habitat.

Pangolins break open logs with their large, powerful claws and use their exceedingly long, slender tongues to lap up insects on which they feed. They also use curved claws on the forefeet to rip open ant and termite nests. They have closeable nostrils and thick eyelids to protect them from insect attack as they feed. They walk with a shuffling gait on the outsides of their fore feet with the claws curled inwards, but they can move more rapidly by running on their hind legs alone, using the long tail as a counterbalance.  

It is a nocturnal animal and spends the day curled up in burrows 200-600 cm deep, dug by itself or in shelters among rocks. A single young is born, and rarely two, during the first half of the year. They live in the deciduous 'sal' and mixed evergreen forests of the eastern and northern districts. Habitat loss is the main threat to this species. This species is also found in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. [Md Anwarul Islam]