Thick-tailed pangolin, Scaly anteater
The Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) is a shy slow-moving mammal that feeds on ants and termites, digging them out of mounds and logs using its long claws, which are as long as its forelimbs. It is nocturnal and rests in deep burrows during the day. The Indian pangolin is rare in its range and is threatened by hunting for its meat and for various body parts used in traditional medicine.
The Indian pangolin possesses a cone-shaped head with small, dark eyes, and a long muzzle with a nose pad similar in color, or darker than, its pinkish-brown skin. It has powerful limbs, tipped with sharp, clawed digits. The pangolin has no teeth but has strong stomach muscles to aid in digestion. The most noticeable characteristic of the pangolin is its massive, scaled armor, which covers its upper face and its whole body with the exception of the belly and the inside of the legs. These protective scales are rigid and made of keratin. It has 160-200 scales in total, about 40-46% of which are located on the tail. Scales are 6.5-7 cm (2.6-2.8 in) long, 8.5 cm (3.3 in) wide, and weigh 7-10 g (0.25-0.35 oz). The skin and scales make up about one-fourth to one-third of the total body mass of this species. Female Indian pangolins are generally smaller than the males.
The Indian pangolin lives in Bangladesh, Southern Nepal, Sri Lanka, India (south of the Himalayas), and small parts of Pakistan. It inhabits grasslands and secondary forests and is well adapted to dry areas and desert regions, but prefers more barren, hilly regions. It prefers soft and semi-sandy soil conditions suitable for digging burrows.
Indian pangolins are nocturnal, and spend most of their day among rocks or in their burrows. At night they leave their burrows to search for food. Most of the time they live alone, except during the mating season when a male and a female are found living in the same burrow. Burrows range in depth, depending on soil type: as deep as 6 m (19.7 ft) in soft soil and usually about 2 m (6.6 ft) in rocky hard soil. They usually close the burrow’s entrance with loose soil to conceal it from predators. These animals use their forelegs to climb, and their prehensile tail and legs for a better grip. However, since most of them live and feed on the ground, this means that they are considered terrestrial. Their vocalizations are limited to loud hissing when agitated, so instead they use their keen sense of smell for communication.
The Indian pangolin is almost entirely carnivorous (insectivorous) and more specifically a myrmecophage. It mainly eats ants, termites, and their eggs, though one has been recorded as eating beetle wing sheaths, skins of worms, and cockroaches.
Little information is available about the mating patterns of this species. Births have been known to occur in January, March, July, and November. Gestation is for 65-70 days. A single young is usually born, occasionally two. Newborns weigh 200-500 grams. At birth their scales are soft, their eyes are functional, and they can crawl. At about 1 month old they can be carried on the base of their mother's tail when she is foraging. At about 3 months old they are weaned.
The main threat to this species is hunting, and this is probably causing a decline in its numbers. It is killed for its scales, believed to have medicinal and aphrodisiac properties, and also for its leathery skin, used to make boots, shoes, and other goods, and for its meat.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Indian pangolin total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List, and its numbers today are decreasing.
Being insectivorous, these animals may affect insect populations in their range.