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Paid PostPosted on Nov 16, 2015

These Pangolins Are The Most Magical Things You'll See All Day

To meet more magical animals and the amazing people trying to save them, tune in to The Operatives, new episodes every Sunday at 10e/p on Pivot.

This is the pangolin:

David Brossard / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Via Flickr: string_bass_dave

It's basically the most majestic creature ever.

Maria Diekmann / Bournemouth News / REX USA

Look at this face.

Not much is known about the pangolin's natural behavior because they're really shy.

video.nationalgeographic.com / Via makeagif.com

"Leave me alone!"

But here are some things we do know:

Pangolins are related to anteaters, sloths, and armadillos.

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They primarily eat ants and termites. It's estimated that an adult pangolin can eat up to 70 million insects every year. Because their diet is so specialized, pangolins tend not to do well in captivity and become sick when introduced to new insects.

They have long claws that are perfect for digging and climbing.

There are eight pangolin species. Unfortunately, all eight species are under threat of extinction.

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Four are found in Africa and four in Asia. Their endangered statuses range from "vulnerable" to "critically endangered."

Major cause of threat? Humans.

Jimin Lai / AFP / Getty Images

Pangolins are coveted for their scales and meat. In China, pangolins are in danger of being "eaten to extinction" due to the creature being used as a cure for everything from cancer to palsy. The illegal trade in pangolin species has reached an epic scale, with the Chinese and Sunda pangolins now classified as Critically Endangered. As the populations of the four Asian pangolin species plummet, traders are now turning to Africa to meet the growing demand.

They're way more equipped to deal with natural predators thanks to being covered in super-thick scales.

Luke Massey / REX USA

Their scales are made of keratin (the same stuff that make our hair and fingernails) and account for approximately 20% of their body weight.

They're basically impenetrable.

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A pangolin's defense mechanism is to curl into a ball and stay that way until their predator grows frustrated and gives up. Which is actually pretty effective.

Just ask this lion:

They're also nocturnal and solitary.

Luke Massey / REX USA

They leave markings to communicate to other pangolins to stay away or, if it's mating season, to entice mates. In fact, they are so solitary that pangolins have been known to develop ulcers from stress when forced to be around other pangolins too long.

They're totally cool with their own offspring though.

Maria Diekmann / Bournemouth News / REX USA

Baby pangolins are born with their eyes open and are unable to walk. They get around by riding their mother's tail and clinging to her scales.

Their tongues can grow up to 27.5 inches long!

Maria Diekmann / Bournemouth News / REX USA

These are sometimes a full 16 inches longer than their entire body, and pangolins use their hard, sticky tongues to reach their food.

They also walk on their hind legs like little T. rexes.

The actual term is "faculative bipedalism." Their claws aren't suited for walking on, so pangolins use their tails as a counterweight to walk upright.

Basically, they're awesome AF.

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Need more pangolin love?

View this video on YouTube

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Meet Ollie the Pangolin (as narrated by the Honey Badger!) He’s on a mission to help all eight of his species get listed on the Endangered Species Act. Take action below and sign the petition to help save pangolins. To learn more go to The Operatives' dedicated pangolin page and tune in to all-new episodes of The Operatives on Sundays at 10e/p on Pivot.