Giant ground pangolin, Grand pangolin
The Giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) is the biggest and the rarest of the African species of pangolin. It looks like an armored animal and behaves in the secretive manner of a spy. Its footprints look the same as a small elephant’s. This unusual animal was first described by Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger in 1815.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
Myrmecophagy is a feeding behavior defined by the consumption of termites or ants, particularly as pertaining to those animal species whose diets a...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
A fossorial animal is one adapted to digging which lives primarily but not solely, underground. Some examples are badgers, naked mole-rats, clams, ...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Like all pangolins, the species is armored with large, brown to reddish-brown scales formed from keratin. Curiously, it also has eyelashes. The giant pangolin has a long snout, a long, thick tail, and large front claws. The animal has a strong sense of smell and large anal glands. It walks with most of its weight on its columnar rear legs, and curls its front paws, walking on the outside of the wrists rather than the palms to protect the claws. Unlike its close relative, the Ground pangolin, this pangolin doesn't walks upright as a biped. Male Giant pangolins are larger than females.
The Giant pangolin has a scattered distribution throughout Central and West Africa from Senegal to Ghana, and Cameroon to Kenya. It lives in forested swamps, moist tropical lowland forests, and mosaic habitats of savanna, forest, and areas of cultivation.
The Giant pangolin is a nocturnal and elusive animal that spends the day hidden beneath plant debris or deep in its burrow. At night it typically goes out to search for food. They are normally solitary but sometimes parents live in the same burrow as their offspring. They walk either on all four legs or using their hind legs with their tail for balance. While walking on all fours, they curl up their front paws to protect their sharp front claws. When startled, pangolins cover their head with their front legs, exposing their scales to the potential predator. If touched, they will roll up into a ball and can use the sharp scales on their tail to lash out.
Little information is available about the breeding habits of Giant pangolins. One newborn was discovered in September and another found in October. Gestation is usually for about 140 days and a single young is born. The young is born with open eyes and weighs around 500 g (18 oz). It has soft scales that eventually harden. The young cannot walk on its legs but can move on its belly. During age 6-8 weeks, the young often spews a yellow secretion from their anal glands to keep predators and other animals from taking advantage of their mothers. The mother nurses her baby for 3 to 4 months then will take it with her when foraging, riding on the base of her tail.
The Giant pangolin, as with other pangolin, is hunted for its meat and to use for traditional medicine. Some local people also believe that the pangolin’s body parts can generate rain, ward off lions, and neutralize evil spirits.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Giant pangolin total population size, but it's generally considered rare. Currently this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.