Meet the pangolin, the mammal that thinks it’s a reptile

by Rebecca on December 1, 2010

in Animal Stories

By Mike Unwin

Saturday, 27 November 2010>

A 15kg walking artichoke? A metre-long ant-eating pine cone? Even though the
pangolin is fairly widespread in savannah woodland right across sub-Saharan
Africa, it’s hard to describe in animal terms. For a start, this bizarre
mammal is the only warm-blooded creature on the planet that is completely
covered in scales.

Odd, then, but clever with it. When threatened, a pangolin curls up into an
armoured ball. Investigate, and the tail scythes back and forth, its
blade-like scales slicing into careless paws or fingers. Persist, and a
pungent, skunk-style dowsing from its anal glands helps get the point

Uncurled, a pangolin looks more reptile than mammal; crocodilian tail at one
end; pointy, toothless head and 50cm tongue at the other. It walks on hind
legs, front claws held up out of harm’s way and tail extended as a

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