Rollin' With the Pangolin
(Manis temminckii )

Reproduction - Let's Get it On!

The generalized life cycle of a pangolin.  Image created by Craig Grosshuesch.Pangolins are dioecious organisms, meaning male sex organs are found only on males and female sex organs are only found on females.  The significance of this is it takes both a male and a female to reproduce.  They also exhibit sexual dimorphism.  In other words, the two sexes have different phenotypes or appearances.  In the case of the pangolin, the male is much larger than the female weighing up to 50% more.  Pangolins reproduce sexually and exhibit a typical mammalian life cycle, shown in the diagram to the right.  To check out an animation and get a more in depth explanation of the life cycle of animals, click here.

As previously mentioned, these animals live on their own, only interacting with other pangolins during mating.  There is no specific mating season, but most animals typically mate once a year during the summer and fall months.  To attract a mate, males will mark their location with urine or feces, letting the females use their strong sense of smell to locate them.  If multiple males are in the same area as a female, they can fight over her, using their strong tails as clubs.
The sex organs of a male pangolin.  Photo courtesy of Tikki Hywood Trust.Once fertilized and after a period of gestation of about 140 days, a mother gives birth to a single baby. The young are very small, only weighing around 12 ounces and are 6 inches in length.  At first, they are extremely vulnerable to predators because their scales are softer and white in color.  After a few days, the scales will slowly harden and become brown like an adult.  To protect their young in this dangerous stage, mothers nurse them in their burrows and curl into a ball around them if they sense danger. 

Once the babies are about a month old, they venture outside the burrow with their mother, riding on her back.  During this time they continue to nurse but are also able to consume termites and ants.  The mothers care for their young until they fully develop into adults at about 2 years of age and then abandon them. They animals are also sexually mature at that age and are able to reproduce, continuing the cycle of life.


Click here to discover the many interactions and relationships the pangolin has with other organisms!                 


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2012 Craig Grosshuesch