Indian pangolin

Manis crassicaudata




Manis crassicaudata Gray, 1827, India. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Thick-tailed pangolin; French: Grand pangolin de l'inde; Spanish: Pangolin indio.


Indian pangolins have a head and body length of 2.0-2.2 ft (60-65 cm), a tail length of 1.5-1.8 ft (45-55 cm), and a weight of 17.6-19.8 lb (8-9 kg). Male Indian pangolins may be as much as 90% heavier than females. They have large, pale yellowish brown or yellow-gray scales, with brownish skin and hair; with about 14-16 rows of scales on the tail. Scales make up about one-fourth to one-third of body weight. The head is small and triangular in shape, and the body is slender and long. They possess small, undeveloped, external ears, have a scale-clad tail, and also have hairs at the base of the body scales. Each limb contains five powerful claws that are adapted for digging burrows or locating their prey's nests. They have no teeth so their two-chambered stomach crushes all their food. The tongue is 9-10 in (23.0-25.5 cm) long, and is their main way to capture food. Because the tongue is so long they have muscular attachments extending all the way to the pelvis.


India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. HABITAT

They prefer hilly regions and plains, mostly in tropical areas. The species has been seen in tropical rainforests, subtropical thorn forests, plains, and the lower slopes of mountains. Burrows range in depth and depend on soil type. Soft soils will allow the animal to dig burrows about 20 ft (6 m) deep, while rocky, hard soils will allow depths of about 6 ft (2 m). They usually close the burrow entrance with loose soil when they are inside, which hides the entrance from predators..


Indian pangolins are largely nocturnal, sleeping and resting in burrows or among rocks during the day. They are predomi-nantely terrestrial but also have great agility for climbing with their prehensile tail and sharp claws. They are good diggers, often making tunnels that end in an enlarged cave. Indian pangolins live mostly alone with the exception of the mating and breeding season, when adult male and female pangolins are found in the same burrow. They protect themselves from predators by curling up into a ball, exposing only its scales. Anal glands emit a foul smelling, yellow fluid for additional defense against enemies.


Indian pangolins eat termites, ants, termite and ant eggs, and other insects from ground mounds and hills.


Their gestation period is about 65-70 days. Births may occur throughout the year, with births having been recorded in January, March, July, and November. Females give birth to 1-2 young at a time. Weight at birth is 8.2-8.6 oz (230-240 g). Scales of young are soft, with fully functioning eyes and legs. At about one month of age, young are carried on the dorsal base of the mother's tail when foraging. At about three months of age the young are (believed to be) weaned. Sexual maturity and life span in the wild for Indian pangolins are unknown.


Lower Risk/Near Threatened, and listed on CITES Appendix I. Their main enemies are humans, large cats (especially leopards, lions, and tigers), hyenas, and pythons.


They are hunted for meat, especially in Pakistan because some of their body parts are used for medicinal purposes. Scales are thought to be an aphrodisiac, and often used to make necklaces and shoes. ♦

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