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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

15 Indian Pangolin Facts You’ll Never Forget

Indian pangolin facts are all about this unique-looking mammal.

The Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) is one of the eight surviving species of pangolins. They occur in India and other Asian countries, alongside the Chinese pangolin. Indian pangolins are listed in the Endangered category of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

With a geographical range spread throughout western Asia, including the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, the Indian pangolin is a species of anteaters that stands out due to the characteristic scales on its body, its long, thick tail, and its cone-shaped head. In fact, the Indian pangolin can be distinguished from other Asian pangolin species such as the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla), the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), and the Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis) by its considerably large-sized pangolin scales. In addition, the long sticky tongues of Indian pangolins let them procure insects such as ants and termites from the deepest crevices, and their long claws help them to raid ant and termite mounds.

Unfortunately, the Indian pangolin population is fast declining due to indiscriminate hunting and poaching. Both the Sunda pangolin and the Chinese pangolin have a rapidly dwindling population with a conservation status of Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List.

There is more to the unique thick-tailed pangolin with scales. Read on for more interesting facts about the Indian pangolin species!

For more relatable content, check out these striped polecat facts and porcupine facts for kids.

Indian Pangolin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Indian pangolin?

The Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) is a type of anteater, native to the Indian subcontinent and is one of eight living species of pangolins.

What class of animal does an Indian pangolin belong to?

Indian pangolins belong to the class of mammals.

How many Indian pangolins are there in the world?

The exact population size of Indian pangolins is not known. However, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports its current population trend to be decreasing.

Where does an Indian pangolin live?

The Indian pangolin species can survive in a wide range of habitats that includes grasslands, open land, tropical forests, thorn forests, secondary forests, and barren hills. However, this habitat range applies so long as the animals have a nearby source of fresh water and an abundant supply of insects such as ants and termites.

What is an Indian pangolin's habitat?

The geographical distribution range of the Indian pangolin primarily includes regions of southwestern Asia. It spans from the Sindh region of Pakistan and eastern Punjab, includes almost all of the Indian subcontinent, and extends up to Nepal and the Yunnan province of China in the north, Bangladesh and Burma to the east, and Sri Lanka to the far south.

Within this distribution range, the Indian pangolin thrives in a diverse range of habitats, including forests and barren hilly areas. They can be found in areas of up to 7,500 ft (2,300 m) above sea level, such as in the Nilgiri Mountains of southern India. Regardless of its habitat, the Indian pangolin prefers soil that is soft or semi-sandy and is ideal for digging burrows. In addition, since Indian pangolins mainly eat ants and termites, they can be frequently found near sources that guarantee a reliable supply of these insects, such as bare grounds, grasses, shrubs, bases of trees, roots, fallen logs, leaf litter, and elephant feces.

Who do Indian pangolins live with?

Like most other pangolin species, Indian pangolins are solitary animals that do not normally share burrow space, even with members of the same species. However, these animals do share burrows with their partner during the mating season, but only briefly. The Indian pangolin is a nocturnal species that is most active during the night when they forage for food or dig burrows. During the day, these animals curl up into a ball, tuck their limbs under their body, and rest in their dens.

How long does an Indian pangolin live?

Widespread poaching and hunting lead to the early death of individuals in the Indian pangolin species. Hence, not much is known about their longevity in the wild. However, the lifespan of captive Indian pangolins ranges between 13-19 years.

How do they reproduce?

Very little information is available about the mating behavior of the Indian pangolin. They breed once a year, and their gestation period lasts for about 65-70 days. The Indian pangolin species has a comparatively shorter gestation period of 65-70 days compared to other pangolin species (tree pangolins are known to have a gestation period of approximately 150 days). After the 65-70 days of the gestation period are over, the female Indian pangolin gives birth to a litter comprising between one and three young pangolins.

Young pangolins are born with soft scales and open eyes and weigh around 8.3-14.1 oz (235-400 g) at birth. The female parent breastfeeds her young during the early stages of their development. After about six months, the young are weaned and begin to consume a diet of ants and termites.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the Indian pangolin has a declining population trend and is classified as an Endangered species of pangolin.

Indian Pangolin Fun Facts

What do Indian pangolins look like?

Like all other pangolin species, the Indian pangolin has brownish scales covering its upper face, body, forelimbs, and hindlimbs. The insides of the legs and the belly are devoid of scales. These armor-like scales are made up of a protein called keratin and make up a significant fraction of the body mass of the Indian pangolin. The scales offer protection against predators and harsh environmental conditions.

With a thick tail that is also covered in scales, the Indian pangolin is rightly termed as the thick-tailed pangolin. Indian pangolins do not have teeth, but they do possess a long sticky tongue which helps these animals eat ants and termites. The total length of the tongue can be as much as 16.7 in (42.4 cm), making up almost 37% of the body length of an average adult Indian pangolin!

Their head is cone-shaped with small dark eyes. Their muzzle is long, with a nose that bestows a keen sense of smell on the Indian pangolin and helps with foraging. They have four limbs, each with a soft and spongy footpad bearing strong claws. Each limb has five digits and five claws, out of which three are modified for digging burrows.

The Indian pangolin has body scales and a conical head.

How cute are they?

The Indian pangolin has a peculiar look and isn't particularly cute at first glance. However, their conical head and long muzzle do make them look cute to some extent.

How do they communicate?

The Indian pangolin is known to demarcate its territorial boundaries by urinating and leaving scent marks on trees or other objects. In addition, the Indian pangolin is known to produce a loud hissing sound during mating, during an interaction with its offspring, or when threatened by predators.

How big is an Indian pangolin?

The average length of an Indian pangolin can range from 33-48 in (84-122 cm) with a tail length of 13-19 in (33-48.3 cm). The Indian pangolin is about twice as big as the Chinese pangolin.

How fast can an Indian pangolin move?

The Indian pangolin is an extremely slow-moving animal and walks on all fours.

How much does an Indian pangolin weigh?

The average weight of an Indian pangolin ranges between 22-35 lb (10-16 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and female Indian pangolins do not have distinct names.

What would you call a baby Indian pangolin?

A baby Indian pangolin is often called a pangopup.

What do they eat?

The diet of the Indian pangolin mainly comprises ants and termites but may also include other insects such as cockroaches and beetles. Even though the Indian pangolin is exclusively insectivorous and consumes all life stages of the prey, they prefer eggs. A keen sense of smell, along with the long sticky tongues of Indian pangolins, is immensely helpful in procuring insects from the deepest cracks and crevices. Their claws also help this pangolin dig ant and termite mounds on the ground.

Are they poisonous?

Indian pangolins are not known to be poisonous. They are rather shy and do not pose any danger to humans. However, they do release a smelly secretion if threatened.

Would they make a good pet?

First and foremost, it is illegal to keep pangolins as pets. Besides, pangolins are wild animals and are not suitable for keeping as household pets. However, they are kept in captivity in different parts of the world in an effort to conserve them.

Did you know...

The Indian pangolin has a terminal scale on the ventral side of its tail which is absent in the Chinese pangolin.

Indian pangolins have been reportedly seen straying into villages and even digging through concrete into houses!

While walking around, these pangolins have their large front claws tucked under the soles of their feet.

Pangolins can also climb trees by using their strong claws on their forelimbs.

Besides the threat from humans, tigers are natural predators of the Indian pangolin.

Thanks to their insectivorous diet, the Indian pangolin helps keep termite and ant populations in check, which would otherwise have negative impacts on agriculture and infrastructure.

Indian pangolin burrows are of two types: living burrows and feeding burrows. Living burrows are wide, deep, and circular and are mostly used for resting and sleeping during the day. On the other hand, feeding burrows are smaller and less frequently occupied than living burrows.

When threatened or attacked, Indian pangolins defend themselves by curling up into a ball with their limbs tucked in and only their armor-like body scales and tail exposed. In addition, they produce a foul-smelling secretion from their anal glands to scare off predators.

When female Indian pangolins take their young out on hunting trips, offspring hang on to their mother's tail for safety. If the mother feels threatened, she curls up into a ball and wraps her young underneath her.

What is special about a pangolin?

The most special feature of pangolins is their unique-shaped body that is covered with scales. In fact, the presence of the scales makes it seem as if the animal is wearing a tough and impenetrable body armor!

What are pangolins killed for?

Pangolins are believed to be the most trafficked mammal in the world, accounting for nearly 20% of the illegal global wildlife trade. They are primarily killed for their meat, which is a delicacy in several parts of Asia and Africa. Their skin is also illegally used in leather goods, and their scales are used in traditional medicine.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our pink fairy armadillo facts and short-beaked echidna facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Indian pangolin coloring pages.

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