Philippine Pangolin

Philippine Pangolin

Palawan pangolin, Balintong

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Manis culionensis
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
20 yrs
WEIGHT
0.9-35 kg
LENGTH
30-90 cm

The Philippine pangolin is a medium-sized mammal covered in small triangular scales made of keratin everywhere except the underbelly and face. It regrows new scales when they are lost and always has the same number of scales throughout its lifespan. The scales come in shades of brown, yellow, and olive, making for adequate camouflage at night. Areas of the body without scales are covered in a layer of hair.

Distribution

Philippine pangolins are native to the Palawan province of the Philippines. They live in primary and secondary forests, as well as surrounding grasslands, and frequently visit agricultural areas.

Philippine Pangolin habitat map

Geography

Continents
Subcontinents
Countries

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Philippine pangolins are nocturnal and reclusive and are usually seen singly or in pairs. Because they are mainly active at night, their eyesight is below average. While their hearing is still only about average, they make up for their lack of vision with their extraordinary sense of smell. Pangolins generally travel slowly but can move in a short burst towards safety when they become startled, and even have a limited ability to swim. Occasionally, these animals can be seen standing on their hind legs, balancing on their tail, to help detect nearby predators. Philippine pangolins are mainly arboreal, and usually stay in the tree canopy; however, they may spend some of their time on the ground foraging. When sleeping, they prefer to take refuge inside hollow trees. When threatened, they, like all pangolins, secrete a foul odor and roll into a ball, relying on the protection provided by their scales. Many even sleep rolled up into a ball to protect themselves while they are unaware. Philippine pangolins are not known for being territorial animals, but they may be seen leaving their scent to let others know they've taken refuge there for a while.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Philippine pangolins are carnivores (insectivores), more specifically myrmecophages. They feed mainly on termites and ants and will also consume other insects.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
spring
PREGNANCY DURATION
18 weeks
BABY CARRYING
1 pangopup
INDEPENDENT AGE
5 months
BABY NAME
pangopup

While little is known about the reproduction of Philippine pangolins, their mating habits are thought to be similar to those of the Sunda pangolin. Like most pangolins, Philippine pangolins breed in the spring. The same odorous secretion used as a self-defense mechanism is also used by males to assert against other males, attract a mate, and is used by the mother while raising their young. Baby pangolins, called pangopups are born after a gestation period of around 18 weeks and are suckled by their mothers for about 4 months. Usually, only one offspring is born at once, and they are carried around on the mother's back for a time. When sleeping or threatened, the mother tends to roll in a ball for defense like usual, but with the young cradled in a ball of their own, encompassed in the mother's ball. At the age of about 5 months, pangopups will separate from their mother. Female pangolins may even adopt lone young that have lost their own mother.

Population

Population threats

Philippine pangolins, much like every other species of pangolin, are threatened due to heavy hunting because of their valued scales and meat. Other than the meat, which is a delicacy in certain Asian cultures, Philippine pangolins are hunted for their organs, and skin, which are used in traditional medicine.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Philippine pangolin total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

Ecological niche

Philippine pangolins help control populations of ants, termites, and other insects that are included in their diet.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The local name of the Philippine pangolin, balintong, (also halintong or malintong) means "one who rolls over" or "one who somersaults" in the Visayan Cuyonon language. Other names of this animal in Cuyonon include balekon or balikon and goling, with the same meaning. In the Palawan language, this pangolin is also known as tanggiling (also spelled tangiling) and also has the same meaning.
  • The Philippine pangolin has five sharp claws per foot and powerful appendages used for digging. However, these claws are not used as weapons for attacking or defending other animals.
  • Pangolins can run solely on their hind legs for a duration, using their tail for balance. The tail of these animals is prehensile, allowing them to grab onto branches or stand on their hind legs, despite being covered in scales. The tail also aids pangolins with climbing and standing upright or to be used as a weapon to puncture enemies using its sharp scales.
  • The Philippine pangolin's tongue can stretch up to 25 cm (10 inches) long and is coated in adhesive saliva that is helpful for catching insects.
  • Philippine pangolins have an incredible sense of smell that they use to find their food and are quite picky when it comes to the insects they eat. They selectively consume a certain species of ant or termite they like, or even actively avoid certain species when there is enough food.
  • Pangolins eat only a portion of a termite or ant colony, leaving most of the mound/hill intact for the colony to regrow and act as a continuous food source for them later down the line.
  • Philippine pangolins consume sand and small stones to help grind food in their stomachs.

References

1. Philippine Pangolin on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_pangolin
2. Philippine Pangolin on The IUCN Red List iste - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/136497/123586862

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