I know you probably missed it, but yesterday was “World Pangolin Day” throughout the world. It was also “Love Your Pet Day,” “Cherry Pie Day,” and “Handcuff Day” — and no off color jokes about that combination, please.
There’s a “day” for everything if you look hard enough. Congress is designating “days” all the time, but you can make up your own “day” if you want. I think tomorrow should be “Rick Moran Day” so please go to my website and hit the PayPal tip jar. I just need enough to finance my next trip to the casino.
But why “World Pangolin Day”? Pictured above, the pangolin, native to tropical areas of Africa and Asia, is one of the ugliest animals I’ve ever seen. And the fact that it’s the most illegally trafficked animal in the world should be celebrated. The sooner we can rid the world of this creature, the more beautiful our planet will be.
Not only is the pangolin ugly; it’s icky.
The physical appearance of a pangolin is marked by large, hardened, overlapping plate-like scales. The scales, which are soft on newborn pangolins but harden as the animal matures, are made of keratin, the same material of which human fingernails and tetrapod claws are made. The pangolin’s scaled body is comparable to a pine cone or globe artichoke. It can curl up into a ball when threatened, with its overlapping scales acting as armour and its face tucked under its tail. The scales are sharp, providing extra defense. The front claws are so long they are unsuited for walking, so the animal walks with its fore paws curled over to protect them.
Pangolins can also emit a noxious-smelling acid from glands near the anus, similar to the spray of a skunk. Pangolins, though, are not able to spray this acid as skunks do. They have short legs, with sharp claws which they use for burrowing into termite and ant mounds, as well as climbing.
I’ll bet when pangolins mate, the male puts two paper bags over the head of the female — just in case one slips off. They are slow, stupid, and useless. Their tongues are almost as long as their bodies, which does them little good when lions want to play with them.
My cats could solve the riddle of the pangolin defense in no time. My tabby Lucky would have that thing rolling around on the kitchen floor until it got so dizzy it would leave an opening. Oops. Another pangolin bites the dust.
CNN’s John Sutter thinks we should do something about the illegal trafficking in pangolins. He wote of “7 Ways to Celebrate World Pangolin Day.” He also tweeted “5 Reasons to love the pangolin,” including the claim that it looks like a crocodile but is a mammal, it curls up into a “roly-poly ball” when it’s scared, and it swings from trees by its tail. I hate to point this out but we already have an animal that looks like a crocodile — the alligator. Armadillos and porcupines roll up into a roly-poly balls for protection, and any number of creatures hang by their tails from trees, including another useless animal, the sloth (but sloths move so slowly that they’re kind of fun to watch.).
So I ask you: What good is a pangolin? We’d never miss the ugly thing.
The pangolin is a mammal and probably tastes pretty good so I can’t decide whether to celebrate World Pangolin Day by frying or fricasseeing the rodent. Either way, my idea of how to celebrate the pangolin at least has the benefit of imbuing the creature with a reason to exist.
Dinner is served.