By Rina Herzl
Did you know that baby pangolins are sometimes called pangopups? You can usually find a pangopup clinging atop the precarious slope of a mother pangolin’s scaly tail.
Often pangolins give birth to just one pangopup, but they may give birth to up to three in some Asiatic species. At birth, pangolins measure just six inches and weigh 3/4 of a pound. During the first days of life, pangolin mothers protect their young in underground burrows or tree hollows, while a pangopup’s soft pink scales harden for some protection.
Still, pangopups are particularly defenseless to predators. Once they emerge from their dens, they stay firmly gripped atop their mother’s back. And at a moment’s notice, the mother pangolin can quickly roll up into a protective ball, folding away her pup from any peril.
For their first few months of life, pangopups rely on their mothers for milk, though young pangolins will begin to eat ants and termites as early as one month old. Pangopups stay with their mothers until they reach sexual maturity at two years of age, when it is time for them to carry on the next generation of pangolins.