Manis culionensisPhilippine pangolin

Last updated:

Geographic Range

Philippine pangolins, Manis culionensis, are endemic to four Phillippine islands: Palawan, Busuanga, Culion, and Calauit. They have also been introduced to the island of Apulit. (Batin and Widmann, 2008)

Habitat

Philippine pangolins are found in lowland forests, grasslands, agricultural areas, and mosaics thereof. Habitat destruction has also forced them into more developed areas. Because of the solitary, reclusive nature of pangolins as well as limited research on this species, little is known about the preferred habitat of Philippine pangolins. (Batin and Widmann, 2008)

Physical Description

Philippine pangolins, like all pangolins, are arboreal and terrestrial quadrupeds. Resembling armored anteaters, they have an elongated snout, a round body, and a long, prehensile tail. Their body is covered with pointed, overlapping scales that are dark in color and made of keratin. However, their nose, eyes, and underbelly are not armored in this way. They also possess large, sharp claws on their forelimbs and a long, thin tongue coated with adhesive saliva. Infant pangolins have scales that are soft and light in color that harden as they mature. Philippine pangolins on average weigh 1.8 to 2.4 kg and measure 58 to 176 cm in length. ("Assessing the Taxonomic Status of the Palawan Pangolin Manis Culionensis (Philodota) Using Discrete Morphological Characters", 2005; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

Philippine pangolins are similar in appearance to other Javanese pangolins, but they can be distinguished in the field. Philippine pangolins have 19 to 21 lateral scale rows on their back, which are generally smaller in size than those of Javanese pangolins. The tail of Philippine pangolins is almost equal in length to the combined length of its head and body, whereas the tail of Javanese pangolins is generally two thirds to three fourths the length of its combined head and body length. The palatine bone of Philippine pangolins is relatively small and weak, and they have a shorter zygomatic process. The nuchal scale pattern is also different in these species; nuchal scales are centered along the neck of Philippine pangolins and are off to one side on Javanese pangolins. ("Assessing the Taxonomic Status of the Palawan Pangolin Manis Culionensis (Philodota) Using Discrete Morphological Characters", 2005)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    1.8 to 2.4 kg
    3.96 to 5.29 lb
  • Range length
    58 to 176 cm
    22.83 to 69.29 in

Reproduction

Little is known regarding the mating behaviors of Philippine pangolins. Most pangolins mate seasonally. Although it is not known how Philippine pangolins attract a mate, their highly developed olfactory glands likely play a part in mating. ("San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

Little information is available regarding the reproductive cycle of Philippine pangolins. Most pangolins breed in the spring and have an average gestation of 120 days. Most pangolin species wean their young at around 4 months, and individuals are independent at around 5 months. Pangolins, on average, have 1 to 3 offspring each season. ("Pangolin", 2010; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

  • Breeding interval
    Philippine pangolins breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    Mating usually occurs in the spring.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 3
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average gestation period
    18 weeks
  • Average weaning age
    4 months
  • Average time to independence
    5 months

Like most arboreal pangolins, Philippine pangolins carry their offspring on their tail and can roll into a ball with its infant in the center if threatened. As with all mammals, young pangolins nurse from their mothers until they are weaned. ("Pangolin", 2010; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Because Philippine pangolins are not kept in captivity and little research has been performed on wild individuals of this species, little is known regarding their longevity. Some species of pangolins can live up to 20 years. ("Assessing the Taxonomic Status of the Palawan Pangolin Manis Culionensis (Philodota) Using Discrete Morphological Characters", 2005; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

Behavior

Philippine pangolins are nocturnal, solitary, arboreal, and prefer to live in trees, though they spend some time on the ground. They move around to find food and, due to habitat destruction, are increasingly mobile. Because of their reclusive, solitary behavior, their activity patterns remain a mystery. When threatened, pangolins roll into a tight ball, in which they are protected by their hard scales. (Batin and Widmann, 2008; "Pangolin", 2010; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

Home Range

Little is known regarding the home range and territory of Philippine pangolins. (Batin and Widmann, 2008)

Communication and Perception

Philippine pangolins use their sense of smell to locate termite mounds and other insect colonies on which they feed. Although the mechanisms of attracting mates are unknown, their highly developed olfactory glands likely contribute to the process. They can also emit a noxious chemical to repel predators. (Batin and Widmann, 2008; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010; Batin and Widmann, 2008; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010; Batin and Widmann, 2008; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010; Batin and Widmann, 2008; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010; Batin and Widmann, 2008; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

Food Habits

Philippine pangolins, like all pangolins are insectivorous, feeding solely on ants and termites. Their anatomy is highly specialized for this task: their large front claws help with breaking open termite mounds and anthills, and their extremely long tongues, which are not anchored to the hyoid bone, are coated with an adhesive saliva by glands in the abdomen. These traits, which are convergent with similar features in anteaters, make them adept insectivores. However, they lack teeth and the ability to chew. (Batin and Widmann, 2008)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

Predation

The keratinous scales of Philippine pangolins protect them from harm. When threatened, pangolins roll into a ball, exposing only their armored surfaces and the sharp points of their scales. They can also emit a noxious chemical to repel predators. Their only known natural predator are Asiatic reticulated pythons. They are also hunted by humans. ("San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010; "Pangolin", 2010; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

Ecosystem Roles

Philippine pangolins prey on ants and termites and are preyed upon by pythons and humans. They may help control populations of insects. ("Pangolin", 2010; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The meat of pangolins is prized as a delicacy in Asia, particularly in China. The scales of Philippine pangolins are used as a reagent in traditional East Asian medicine and have been used to treat asthma. Many individuals in the Philippines trap and sell pangolins, and the demand for pangolin meat and scales is increasing. (Batin and Widmann, 2008)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Philippine pangolins on humans. (Batin and Widmann, 2008; "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes", 2010)

Conservation Status

Hunting and habitat destruction are the chief causes of population decline of Philippine pangolins. Deforestation in the Philippine islands has led to a smaller range, especially in the lowland forests. However, assessing the true population size of Philippine pangolins is difficult given their nocturnal and solitary nature. Philippine pangolins, like many Asian pangolins, are hunted for their meat. Their skin and scales are used as a treatment for asthma and as a reagent in traditional East Asian medicine. This species is protected in the province of Palawan, and government agencies across Asia are enforcing restriction of the trade of pangolin and their scales. Philippine pangolins are listed as near threatened by the IUCN and in Appendix II by CITES. (Batin and Widmann, 2008)

Other Comments

Philippine pangolins were until very recently considered to be a subspecies of Manis javanicus. It was only in 1998 that the taxonomic discussion of Manis culionensis began in earnest, and its classification as a separate species gained serious acceptance as a result of a study by Gaubert et. al. in 2005. As a result, there has been very little field research conducted on Philippine pangolins. Indeed, only 9 specimens, all of them from museum collections, were used by Gaubert in his definitive study. Because of their reclusive, nocturnal, and arboreal behavior, as well as the recent acceptance of their classification as a discrete species, little information is currently available regarding Philippine pangolins. ("Assessing the Taxonomic Status of the Palawan Pangolin Manis Culionensis (Philodota) Using Discrete Morphological Characters", 2005)

Contributors

Andrew Helmsworth (author), University of Oregon, Stephen Frost (editor), University of Oregon, Gail McCormick (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

aposematic

having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

drug

a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

introduced

referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

pheromones

chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

2005. Assessing the Taxonomic Status of the Palawan Pangolin Manis Culionensis (Philodota) Using Discrete Morphological Characters. Journal of Mammalogy, 86/6: 1068-1074.

Columbia University Press. 2010. Pangolin. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6 Edition. Columbia University Press. Accessed December 08, 2010 at http://web.ebscohost.com.libproxy.uoregon.edu/ehost/detail?vid=4&hid=119&sid=b6e38126-9233-4331-b0bf-82d35e3211dc%40sessionmgr114&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=aph&AN=39026493.

Zoological Society of San Diego. 2010. "San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes" (On-line). SanDiegoZoo.org. Accessed November 09, 2010 at http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-pangolin.html.

Batin, G., P. Widmann. 2008. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Manis Culionensis. Accessed November 08, 2010 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/136497/0.