During the day the arboreal Sunda pangolin sleeps in tree hollows or burrows and forages for food throughout the night, using its prehensile tail to climb trees in pursuit of prey (1). The diet of the Sunda pangolin consists primarily of ants and termites, whose nests it easily locates using its acute sense of smell (6) (8), and can easily demolish using its large curved claws (4) (6). To prevent ant bites while feeding, the Sunda pangolin has specialised muscles that allow it to close its nose and thick eyelids to protect its eyes (6). Other soft-bodied insects and larvae are occasionally taken by the Sunda pangolin, which it catches by flicking its long, sticky tongue in and out of hidden cracks and crevices. Amazingly, the tongue of this species can be extended by up to 25 centimetres (8). Pangolins have no teeth, and therefore ants and termites enter the stomach whole and must be processed internally (8). Sand and small stones are swallowed by pangolins to assist the grinding activity of the stomach, allowing them to digest their prey (4).
The female Sunda pangolin reaches sexual maturity at one year old and has a gestation period of between three and four months (7), after which a single pup is born (8). The newborn Sunda pangolin, whose scales are soft and do not begin to harden until the second day of life (8), remains in a burrow created by the female for two to four weeks before venturing outside (6). While outside the young Sunda pangolin, also known as a ‘pangopup’, attaches itself to the base of the female’s back and clings tightly to the scales for around three months, after which it begins to walk and forage for itself (4) (8).
Despite its excellent hearing, the Sunda pangolin produces few vocalisations and is a relatively quiet animal (6), although an aggressive snorting sound, hissing and puffing are produced when an individual is threatened (4). When under attack, this species rolls into a tight ball to protect the vulnerable underside of its body (8) and may lash out with its sharply edged tail (9). The Sunda pangolin is known to curl up so tightly that it is practically impossible for a human to unroll it (8). This species can also emit well-directed jets of pungent liquid from its anal region as a defence mechanism (8) and to mark its territory (6) (9).