Philippine Pangolin (Manis culionensis)
A species formerly classified along with the pangolins of other South East Asian countries, the Philippine pangolin or balintong is now identified as a unique and distinct creature endemic to the Palawan faunal region. Pangolins have bodied lined with large, hardened, plate-like scales made up of keratin—the same material in human nails. Whenever threatened, the balintong curls up into a ball, with its overlapping scales acting as armor. The balintong is usually found in primary or secondary forests as well as surrounding grasslands, feeding on termites and ants.
They are nocturnal animals that use their strong sense of smell to spot insects. When it’s time to eat, they stick out their long tongue and swallow the insects whole, since they don’t have any teeth. Balintongs are great at digging too- using their powerful and long front claws to move soil and debris. They dig not only to get to their food, but to create burrows where they nest and sleep.
The Philippine pangolin is heavily hunted for its scales, skin, and meat, which are used in traditional East Asian medicine. Habitat loss has also contributed to their scarcity. The IUCN has classified the Philippine pangolin as near threatened.