The Cape pangolin lives in a burrow, seeking ant and termite nests by scent at night.
Unknown, but one pangolin has lived 13 years in captivity.
40-70cm long with a tail the same length again.
An animal with short legs covered in brownish red overlapping scales making it look like a pinecone. Only the snout, chin, throat, sides of the face, and the belly lack scales. It has a long prehensile tail (equally scaled), and 5 long curved claws on each foot. Its head is small and pointed with very small eyes protected by thickened eyelids, and it has a long sticky tongue for catching ants and termites.
Chad and Sudan west to Kenya and Tanzania and south to northern South Africa.
Forests, scrubland and savannah.
Ants and termites.
Pangolins are shy and mainly solitary, using scent marking around their territories. Cape pangolins spend most of their time on the ground, sleeping through the day in a burrow and coming out at night to search for ant and termite nests by smell. They walk mainly on their hind legs, although they keep their body horizontal to the ground, dragging their tail behind them. They are also proficient climbers and can swim. They use their claws to break open ant or termite nests and capture the occupants with their long sticky tongue.
Breeding takes place at any time of year, although births peak during November-March, and males and females find each other using scent. Gestation is about 139 days, after which a single youngster is born in a burrow. After 2-4 weeks the youngster leaves the nest and is carried around on the mother's tail for many months. They start to feed themselves at 3 months of age, but continue with their mothers for much longer. Sexual maturity is reached at 2 years of age.
Classified as 'lower risk: near threatened'.
Fossil pangolins are first found in the Eocene in Europe. In the Messel shales of Germany they are particularly well preserved, showing that their characteristic scales were already developed. Recent DNA analysis has shown them to be bizarre offshoots of the Carnivora - the carnivores such as cats, dogs, bears, hyenas, civets and mongooses.