Feeding

Pangolins feed mainly on ants & termites but will take other soft-bodied insects and larvae (Nowak, 1999).

The stomach contents of one pangolin were estimated to contain in excess of 200 000 ants.

Pangolins use their excellent sense of smell to locate prey. They have good hearing but relatively poor eyesight. They use their powerful claws for digging and tearing apart ant hills.

Pangolins have no teeth. The tongue is coated with very sticky saliva and is flicked in and out of the mouth to pick up ants. Any debris that also sticks to the tongue is filtered out in the throat by a rhythmic action, whilst the food is swallowed.

The stomach is thick, muscular, with a horny laminated epithelium and usually contains stones. It is thought to act in the same way as a bird’s gizzard (Lekagul, 1988).

To protect them from ants, the eyes have a membrane and thick lids and the ears and nostrils can be closed (Nowak, 1999).

View and image of a pangolin feeding.