Pangolin – nothing to do with penguin,
porcupine, furniture polish, mandolin.
It’s got no fur, feather, wingspan, or fin.
So, you’ve never heard of a pangolin?
It’s a mammal, covered in keratin.
Keratin? – a protection for its skin.
When it sniffs food, it gives a little sneeze
and it walks just as if it’s got knock knees,
looking like a dinosaur, if you please.
You’ve never seen one? Well, that is because
they scrabble at night with very sharp claws
and their tongues flick termites into their jaws.
You’ve never smelled a pangolin, have you?
You wouldn’t want to, ’cause they pong like poo,
but – hey! – they might not like the smell of you!
They come from Africa, The Philippines,
Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka… it seems
bad men turn them into medicines.
Pangolins don’t like to be touched: not much!
They’ll try to avoid a predator’s clutch
and will hide in a hollow tree, or such.
If they are scared, they’ll roll into a ball.
They like their own company – that is all.
Big cats will just paw them and let them fall.
Curled up, they can look like an artichoke;
they won’t even move, if given a poke.
Fast asleep, they don’t take it as a joke.
Arboreal ones will hang from their tails.
Pangopups ride on the backs of females.
They’re covered in all these cute little scales.
You used to see pangolins in a zoo,
but nowadays there are only a few.
They value their freedom, the same as you!
They’re fussy feeders – their stenophagy*
means that they will only eat two, or three
types of termites, so it isn’t easy
to please a pangolin. Yes, some have tried,
with worms and crickets and larvae, deep-fried,
but the pangolins turned up their toes and died.
So, if you’re offered one, do not buy it.
They only feed on their special diet.
They are not pets – so, don’t even try it!
I don’t want you to taste a pangolin.
You know, it would be a terrible sin
to eat animals who face extinction.
A pangolin has no teeth to bite you.
Its long, sticky tongue is coated with glue.
It swallows stones, which you should never do!
Apparently, it aids their digestion.
‘Quite how?’ would be a very good question.
Look up ‘the gizzard’ is my suggestion.
They’ve been around for 80 million years,
but now conservationists have raised fears
that, if we don’t help them, they’ll disappear.
Join Prince William, His Royal Highness –
try to look on all wildlife with kindness,
whether pangolin, leopard, or lioness.
Pangolin, we have caused you much offence.
Your armour was given you for defence;
now we pledge to protect your existence.
drawings and text copyright- Candia Dixon- Stuart, 2018.
* a narrow range of diet