Stevie is an extremely active pangolin.
When the baby pangolin is not searching for termites to eat, he takes a mud bath or plays with whatever intriguing object he encounters on his regular travels.
Sarah Kempen, spokesperson for the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital (JWVH), told The Dodo, “He truly enjoys playing with rocks, tree branches, and even tree stumps.” He has been observed rolling down minor slopes and termite mounds.
As an infant, Stevie, a Temminck’s pangolin, was saved from poachers in the South African city of Pretoria. Stevie was malnourished and unwell when rescued after being separated from his mother.
In traditional Asian medicine, pangolin scales are highly valued, and their meat is considered a delicacy. “As the most trafficked mammal on the planet, their lives and ours are in danger,” said Kempen. Therefore, we have an off-site clinic where they can be treated safely, away from the hospital premises.
Stevie’s health improved at the hospital, and he swiftly gained weight.
Since his arrival at the hospital, he has gained more than 4 kilograms (almost 8 pounds), according to Kempen. “He is a lot more confident pangolin who can independently scavenge for termites. When he first arrived, his only source of nutrition was a special milk formula. In the subsequent weeks, when his health improved, he went hunting for ants and termites.
Due to Stevie’s separation from his mother at such a young age, the hospital staff instructed him in pangolin behavior. The one thing Stevie did not require assistance with was taking a mud bath, which was one of his favorite activities.
“When he discovers a puddle of water, he typically rolls in it,” explained Kempen. This appears to significantly chill him, allowing him to feed longer and be more comfortable as he doesn’t overheat.
She continued, “Pangolin are known for their mud/fresh dung baths.” “We believe this is not simply to cool them down, but also to perhaps protect them from parasites.”
Soon, Stevie will begin the gradual process of being released back into the wild on a private reserve because he is doing so well.
“For the first few weeks, he will be closely monitored and taken on regular walks as he adjusts to his new environment and food sources,” Kempen explained. “After a period of time, he will be prepared for full release, where he will be allowed to roam freely while being regularly observed to assure his safety. The conservationists will also track his weight and development to assure his happiness and good health.
Thanks to Stevie’s rescuers, the pangolin will continue to enjoy unfettered mudbaths for many years to come.
To learn how you can help support Stevie’s care, check out the Johannesburg Wildlife Vet’s wishlist.