Order : PHOLIDOTA
Family : Manidae
Species : Manis javanica
Head-body length : Up to 65 cm
Tail length : Up to 56 cm
Weight : up to 10 kg
The Sunda Pangolin, also
known as the Malayan or Javan Pangolin, is a curious, unmistakable
inhabitant of Southeast Asia's forested habitats (primary, secondary, scrub
forest) and plantations (rubber, palm oil).
Its other common name is Scaly Anteater : it feeds wholly on ants and
termites, which it locates by its strong sense of smell. It possesses thick,
powerful claws which it uses to dig into the soil in search of ant nests or
to tear into termite mounds. The insects are gathered with its long, sticky
tongue and swallowed whole - the Pangolin has no need for teeth. It is
estimated that on average a Pangolin might eat around 200,000 ants or
termites per day.
Its body is covered by rows of scales which are formed by a compressed,
fibrous hair-like material. The belly, however, lack scales and the animal
thus protects its soft underparts by rolling into a ball when feeling
Nocturnal in habits, the
Pangolin will rest by day in burrows and tree holes. The species is also an
adept climber, aided by its prehensile tail : it is also known to hide by
day amongst the foliage of large epiphytes such as the Bird's Nest Fern.
One or two young are raised, and the infants are carried astride the base of
the mother's tail until such time as they are independent.
The Sunda Pangolin ranges from Burma, Thailand and Indochina through
Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore to Borneo, Sumatra and Java.
Figs 1 and 2 : Fully grown Sunda
Pangolin in Singapore's central forests.
Fig 3 : Rolled into a defensive ball.
Fig 4 : Detail of the interleaved
rows of scales.
References : M1, M2, M3