Follow the instructions for cardboard animals and make a new friend. Literally!
Pangolins are strange little creatures. They are very hard to keep in captivity, so you probably have never seen one in a zoo. So what are these animals, and why are they important? As you follow along with the instructions for cardboard animals, learn a little more about our pangolin pals!
Pangolins are mammals that are completely covered in scales. They are solitary animals and primarily nocturnal. Pangolins eat ants and termites specific to their region of the world. They have no teeth, so they catch bugs with their sticky tongue. They curl up into a ball when under attack; their scales protect them against most predators. There are eight species of pangolin across Africa and Asia, and all of them range from vulnerable to critically endangered. The primary threat to pangolins is illegal wildlife trade for their meat and their scales. This severely harms the pangolin population, and sometimes harms humans – removing scales can subject people to disease.
Pangolins are extremely important to their ecosystems! They eat most of the time they’re awake, so they control the insect population in a huge way. They also dig up soil while they look for food or when they burrow, which aerates it and creates a healthier surface for plants to grow in. When their burrows are abandoned, other animals move in and are protected.
Materials you will need:
- A soda box (or a few cereal or granola bar boxes)
- A hot glue gun
- Optional: a strip of paper for the pangolin’s tongue
Instructions for Cardboard Animals: Pangolin
Step 1: Cut out a body shape (like a rounded x) and strips for the neck and tail – make sure it’s wide enough to hold some scales!
Step2: Make a small cone for the head. You can do this by cutting a strip of the box and rolling it tightly from one corner, then cutting off the excess. Glue the cone together.
Step 3: Glue the head cone to the neck and onto the body. DON’T glue the tail on yet.
Step 4: Now for the tough part – let’s cut some scales! Scales are teardrop shaped, but they don’t all need to be exactly the same. Variety looks natural.
- 20 small scales, about the size of your thumbnail
- 35 medium scales, about the size of your thumbprint
- 40 large scales, about the size of a guitar pick
Step 5: Start gluing scales to your pangolin's head, legs, neck, and tail.
- Glue a small scale to each leg with the point facing down.
- Glue 7 small scales to the head, layering on top as you move backwards on the pangolin’s body.
- Glue 7 small scales to one end of the tail, layering on top as you move forwards on the pangolin’s body.
Step 6: Now, let’s create some body structure. Create a trapezoid shape where the smaller end is about the size of the back of the pangolin’s head with the scales on.
Step 7: Create a slightly larger trapezoid than the first one. Then, create one more, larger than the middle one.
Give each trapezoid shape some curve, like an arch.
Step 8: Glue some scales onto the smallest trapezoid, starting with layers of small scales. You can use all the rest of your small scales and move onto medium if you have room. Don’t over layer – just fill in spots where you can see the trapezoid underneath.
Step 9: Glue the smallest trapezoid to the body shape.
Step 10: Repeat steps 6-7 with medium and large trapezoids.
- Glue some scales onto the medium trapezoid, a row or two of medium and then large.
- Glue the medium trapezoid so it’s layered slightly underneath the smallest trapezoid.
- Glue some scales onto the largest trapezoid.
- Glue the largest trapezoid so it’s layered slightly underneath the medium trapezoid.
*If you need it, you can fold up a piece of cardboard to slip between the body shape and the trapezoid for support.
Step 11: Add the finishing touches
- Glue the tail onto the largest trapezoid.
- Fill in the tail with medium or large scales.
- Fill in the legs with medium scales with the point facing downwards.
*Optional: curl up a thin strip of paper and glue it in the mouth to represent the tongue.
Step 12: Name your pangolin!
How can you help pangolins? The biggest challenge is education – most people don’t know that pangolins exist! Tell your friends about these cute little creatures. You can also support wildlife sanctuaries and advocacy groups.
Expand on this activity
- Learn more about pangolins!
- Why do we know so little about pangolins? Because of their natural behaviors and specific diet, only a few sanctuaries exist where their natural behaviors can be observed or they can be studied up close.
- Have you been online shopping? Check out more ways to get creative with cardboard!
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