The ground pangolin is a solitary and nocturnal animal, although in winter it will often venture out in the late afternoon (6). It normally walks slowly with its head swaying from side to side and its tail dragging along the ground, although it is also capable of running and walking on two legs (5). When searching for food it frequently walks on its hindlegs, sniffing continually for prey with its nose close to the ground and its forelegs and tail touching the ground occasionally for balance (6). When an ant or termite nest is located, the ground pangolin uses its front claws to break open a hole into which it inserts its long tongue and feeds on the ants within. The tongue can extend an incredible 10 to 15 centimetres beyond the pangolin’s lips, and is retracted into a pouch in the throat when not in use (5). It also digs shallow holes in the ground, carefully moving the soil as its tongue flicks in and out of the ant nest’s passages (2). Any sand that is swallowed along with the ants helps to grind the soft food in the pangolin’s muscular stomach (6).
While capable of digging their own burrows, ground pangolins prefer to live in burrows dug by anteaters or spring hares where they sleep curled up (2) (5). While scales do not provide good insulation or protection from external parasites, they are an effective shield against scratches from sharp rocks in the walls of a burrow, or against a predator (5). The ground pangolin’s mating season is thought to be from late summer to early autumn, with birthing in winter after a gestation period of around 139 days long. Females give birth to one young per year which they carry clinging to their back (5).