Little Pangolin Can't Contain His Joy While Taking A Mud Bath

“As soon as he finds a puddle of water, he usually rolls in it” 💙

Meet Stevie — a very busy little pangolin.

When the young pangolin’s not foraging for a termite snack, the confident little guy is taking a mud bath or playing with whatever interesting thing he finds on his daily walks.

Sarah Kempen

“He thoroughly enjoys playing with rocks, tree branches and even tree stumps,” Sarah Kempen, spokesperson for the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital (JWVH), told The Dodo. “He will roll around these elements and has even been known to roll down small embankments and termite mounds.”

Stevie, a Temminck's pangolin, was rescued from poachers in the South African city of Pretoria when he was just a baby. When rescuers found Stevie, he was underweight and sick after having been separated from his mom.

Pangolin scales are prized for their use in traditional Asian medicine, and their meat is considered a delicacy. “As the most trafficked mammal in the world, their lives and ours are at risk,” Kempen said. “Thus, we have an off-site clinic where they are safe, away from our usual hospital grounds.”

baby pangolin rescued from poachers
Sarah Kempen and Lisa Tashley

At the hospital, Stevie’s health improved, and he quickly put on weight.

“Since arriving at the hospital, he has gained over 4 kilograms (over 8 pounds),” Kempen said. “He is a much more confident pangolin, and he is able to forage for termites on his own. When he first arrived, he relied on a special milk formula exclusively as food. Over the weeks that followed, and as his health improved, he went out foraging for ants and termites.”

Sarah Kempen and Lisa Tashley

Since Stevie had been separated from his mom at such a young age, the hospital staff coached Stevie in natural pangolin behavior. But the one thing Stevie didn’t need any help learning was how to take a mud bath — one of his favorite activities.

Baby pangolin takes a mud bath
Sarah Kempen

“As soon as he finds a puddle of water, he usually rolls in it,” Kempen said. “This seems to cool him down substantially, which enables him to feed for longer and be more comfortable as he doesn't get so hot.”

“Pangolin are known for mud/fresh dung baths,” she added. “We believe this is to not only cool them down, but to also potentially offer protection against parasites.”

Sarah Kempen

Stevie is doing so well that soon he will begin the slow process of being released back into the wild on a private reserve.

“For the first few weeks, he will be monitored carefully and will be taken out on daily walks as he acclimatizes himself to his new surroundings and food sources,” Kempen said. “After some time, he will be ready for full release where he will be free to roam and monitored continuously to ensure his safety. The conservationists will also monitor his weight and progress to ensure that he is happy and healthy.”

Thanks to Stevie's rescuers, the little pangolin will have many more years of carefree mudbaths to come.

To learn how you can help support Stevie's care, check out the Johannesburg Wildlife Vet's wishlist.