The Ground pangolin is an unusual animal that is one of a group of eight species that are armor-plated, distinguished from other mammals due to the layer of protective horny scales. It is the second-largest and most widespread of the four pangolin species in Africa. Its long, streamlined body, its small, cone-shaped head, and the thick tail are all covered with overlapping scales shaped like artichoke leaves, yellow-brown in color and composed of fused hairs. The only unprotected parts of its body are its underside and the inner sides of its limbs. When threatened, this animal can roll itself into an almost impenetrable ball, wrapping its strong tail around its body, leaving only its sharp scales exposed to any predator.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
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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 ...
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Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
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.
The Ground pangolin lives in southern and eastern Africa, from Sudan and north-eastern Chad to South Africa. It occurs in savanna and woodland, but not in desert or forest, often near a water source.
The Ground pangolin is solitary and nocturnal, although in winter often it will venture out during the late afternoon. It spends most of its time on the ground, though it is able to climb and can swim well. It normally walks slowly, with its head swaying and its tail dragging on the ground, although it can run and walk on two legs. Ground pangolins are able to dig their own burrows but they prefer to live in those dug by spring hares or anteaters and sleep curled up in them. Little is known about how they communicate with each other, but they probably use visual cues, smells, sounds, and touch.
Ground pangolins are polygynous, males fighting fiercely for access to a female. Breeding occurs throughout the year, even while females are rearing young. Gestation is for about 139 days, and usually one young is born. Births take place in an underground shelter. The babies are carried outside once they reach 2 to 4 weeks old. A pup will stay with its mother for around 3 months and may accompany its father for an extra month, though this is rare. Then it becomes completely independent but remains in its mother's home range until it is about one year old. Females probably breed once they are 3-4 years old and males probably reach maturity around the same age, but may not breed until they are 5-7 years old.
Ground pangolins are under threat due to the great economic value of their flesh and scales, and the loss of their habitat to agriculture. Lions and hyenas are among their predators, and they can be killed by brush fires and electrocuted by electric fences.
Ground pangolins are considered widespread but quite rare. The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the population size of this species. Currently, these animals are classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today continue to decrease.
Due to their diet, Ground pangolins have an important role as predators of colonial insects within the ecosystems where they live.