“As soon as he finds a puddle of water, he usually rolls in it” 💙
Meet Stevie, a rambunctious little pangolin.
When the confident young pangolin isn’t foraging for termite snacks, he’s taking a mud bath or playing with whatever interesting thing he finds on his daily walks.
“He thoroughly enjoys playing with rocks, tree branches, and even tree stumps,” Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital (JWVH) spokesperson Sarah Kempen told The Dodo. “He will roll around in these elements and has been known to roll down small embankments and termite mounds.”
Stevie, a Temminck’s pangolin, was rescued from poachers as a baby in the South African city of Pretoria. Stevie was found by rescuers underweight and sick after being separated from his mother.
Pangolin scales are highly valued in traditional Asian medicine, and their meat is considered delectable. “As the world’s most trafficked mammal, their lives and ours are in jeopardy,” Kempen said. “As a result, we have an off-site clinic where they can be safe and away from our regular hospital grounds.”
Stevie’s health improved in the hospital, and he quickly gained weight.
“He has gained over 4 kilograms (over 8 pounds) since arriving at the hospital,” Kempen said. “He is a much more self-assured pangolin, and he can forage for termites on his own.” When he first arrived, he lived solely on a special milk formula. He went out foraging for ants and termites in the weeks that followed, as his health improved.”
Stevie was taught natural pangolin behavior by the hospital staff because he had been separated from his mother at such a young age. But Stevie didn’t need any help learning how to take a mud bath, which was one of his favorite activities.
“He usually rolls in puddles as soon as he finds them,” Kempen said. “This appears to significantly cool him down, allowing him to feed for longer and be more comfortable because he doesn’t get as hot.”
“Pangolin are well-known for their mud/fresh dung baths,” she added. “We believe this is to not only cool them down, but also to potentially offer parasite protection.”
Stevie is doing so well that he will soon begin the slow process of being returned to the wild on a private reserve.
“For the first few weeks, he will be closely monitored and taken on daily walks as he acclimates to his new surroundings and food sources,” Kempen said. “After a while, he’ll be ready for full release, where he’ll be free to roam and constantly monitored to ensure his safety.” The conservationists will also keep an eye on his weight and progress to make sure he’s happy and healthy.”
The little pangolin will have many more years of carefree mudbaths thanks to Stevie’s rescuers.
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