Why Do Pangolins Roll In Poop

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Pangolins roll themselves up into a tight ball when they feel threatened. This is a defensive stance that helps protect them from potential predators.

The name “pangolin” comes from the Malay word “pengguling”, which means “roller”. However, there is no evidence that pangolins roll in poop.

Pangolins eat ants and termites using an extraordinarily long, sticky tongue, and have poor vision but a well-developed sense of smell to locate insect nests

They have no teeth and use their long sticky tongues to eat ants and termites, up to 70 million per year

Their stomach is muscular and has keratinous spines projecting into its interior, which mash and grind prey in much the same manner as a bird’s gizzard

Pangolins have long curved claws on their front feet, which they use to turn over rocks, pull bark off trees and logs, and excavate ant nests and termite mounds.

Scent-Marking Hypothesis

There is no evidence that pangolins roll in feces as a form of scent-marking.

However, pangolins do use scent marking to identify their territories by marking with urine and secretions from a special gland.

 Pangolins have an enhanced sense of smell, which helps them locate prey and counterbalances their poor vision

They are not known to vocalize and do not have markings that would easily enable individuals to be identified from photographs. Males mark their location with urine or feces, and the females find them

Scent marking is a common behavior in mammals, and it is used to communicate with other individuals of the same species

Pangolins may use scent marking to communicate with other pangolins or deter predators, but there is no evidence that they roll in feces to do so.

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Chemical Analysis of Feces

There is no information available on the specific compounds or scents that attract pangolins to feces.

However, chemical analysis of pangolin feces has been conducted to measure hormones from the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis

The study found that some of the main adrenal and gonadal metabolites can be predicted by exploiting MS/MS, which can steer research to potentially assess the reproductive status of captive and free-ranging pangolin species

Another study analyzed the microbiome in the intestine of the pangolin to protect this species. Pangolins have an enhanced sense of smell, which helps them locate prey and counterbalances their poor vision

They use scent marking to identify their territories by marking with urine and secretions from a special gland

The chemical cues that might be important to pangolins include hormones from the HPA and HPG axis, as well as the scent of urine and secretions from a special gland used for marking territories.

Social Significance

There is no evidence that rolling in feces serves a social purpose among pangolins.

Pangolins are solitary animals that are most active at night and highly secretive

They mark their territory with urine, secretions, and by scattering their feces. Because of their excellent sense of smell, the social interactions of pangolins revolve around advertisement through the spreading of feces and the marking of territories

However, there is no evidence that rolling in feces is a behavior that pangolins use to signal their presence or social status to other individuals.

When threatened, pangolins roll up into a ball, using their scales like armor, and hiss and puff to deter predators. The scales on their tails are capable of a cutting action to inflict serious wounds.

Anti-Predator Defense

There is no evidence that rolling in feces serves as an anti-predator defense mechanism among pangolins.

Pangolins have a unique defense mechanism where they roll up into a tight ball, using their scales as protection when threatened

The scales on their back and belly fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, forming a hard shell that is difficult for predators to open. Even lions and tigers have been known to give up after trying to eat a pangolin

The scales on their tails are capable of a cutting action to inflict serious wounds. Pangolins are solitary animals that are most active at night and highly secretive

They mark their territory with urine, secretions, and by scattering their feces

Because of their excellent sense of smell, the social interactions of pangolins revolve around advertisement through the spreading of feces and the marking of territories

However, there is no evidence that rolling in feces is a behavior that pangolins use to disguise their scent or make them less appealing to potential predators.

Cultural and Evolutionary Aspects

Different pangolin species and populations may exhibit variations in behavior, but there is no evidence that rolling in feces is a behavior that pangolins use to communicate or defend themselves against predators.

Pangolins are solitary animals that are most active at night and highly secretive. They mark their territory with urine, secretions, and by scattering their feces

Because of their excellent sense of smell, the social interactions of pangolins revolve around advertisement through the spreading of feces and the marking of territories

However, there is no evidence that rolling in feces is a behavior that pangolins use to signal their presence or social status to other individuals.

Pangolins have a unique defense mechanism where they roll up into a tight ball, using their scales as protection when threatened

The scales on their back and belly fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, forming a hard shell that is difficult for predators to open. Even lions and tigers have been known to give up after trying to eat a pangolin

The scales on their tails are capable of a cutting action to inflict serious wounds. The chemical cues that might be important to pangolins include hormones from the HPA and HPG axis, as well as the scent of urine and secretions from a special gland used for marking territories

The habitat preference and distribution of pangolins may vary depending on the species and population.

For example, the Chinese pangolin mostly occurs in Nepal and is found in forest at altitudes between 650 and 800 m a.s.l., with moderate canopy cover, red soil, and close to a source of water.

Observation and Monitoring

Field studies and observations of pangolins rolling in feces are limited, and there is no evidence that this behavior serves a specific purpose.

However, researchers have conducted studies on pangolins in their natural habitat to understand their behavior and ecology.

Some of the methods used to study pangolins in their natural habitat include:

  • Fecal analysis: Researchers have conducted fecal analysis of pangolins to understand their diet and habitat preferences. Fecal analysis has also been used to measure hormones from the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis.
  • Burrow analysis: Researchers have distinguished active (new) burrows (freshly dug soil, footprints, and pangolin feces nearby) and old burrows (spider webs and dead tree). They have also analyzed ecological parameters such as habitat, soil, canopy cover, terrain, and distance to water to understand the distribution of pangolins.
  • Direct observation: Researchers have observed pangolins in their natural habitat to understand their behavior and ecology.

    For example, they have observed pangolins digging small holes, defecating inside it, and dragging their tails over the feces to conceal it.

Insights gained from these studies have helped researchers understand the ecology and behavior of pangolins in their natural habitat.

For example, researchers have identified the habitat preference and distribution of different pangolin species.

 They have also identified the importance of scent marking and the use of chemical cues to communicate with other pangolins. However, there is no evidence that rolling in feces serves a specific purpose among pangolins.

Conservation Implications

Understanding the behavior of pangolins, including rolling in feces, can have implications for pangolin conservation efforts.

Some ways that knowledge of pangolin behavior can help protect pangolins in the wild include:

  • Conservation education: Educating the public about the importance of pangolins and the threats they face can help raise awareness and inspire action to protect them. This can include using local media types, such as TV stations, to create publicity and improve public understanding of pangolins.
  • Habitat protection: Protecting the habitat of pangolins is critical to their survival. Researchers have identified the habitat preference and distribution of different pangolin species, which can inform conservation strategies to protect their habitat.
  • Anti-trafficking efforts: Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world, primarily for their meat and scales. Developing pangolin-specific monitoring methods linked to anti-trafficking efforts is the highest conservation priority for these mammals. Wildlife authorities are constantly seizing live pangolins from illegal traders, so developing ways to treat and rehabilitate pangolins in captivity can help them be returned to their native habitats.
  • Reducing demand: Reducing the demand for pangolins, particularly in countries like China and Vietnam where they are considered a delicacy and used in traditional

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