Lyndsay Gallup

Written by Lyndsay Gallup

Modified & Updated: 28 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


The pangolin, also known as the scaly anteater, is one of the most unique and fascinating creatures on Earth. With its unique appearance and behavior, this elusive mammal has become increasingly popular among wildlife enthusiasts. Pangolins are characterized by their overlapping scales, long tongues, and armored bodies, making them one of the most peculiar-looking animals in the animal kingdom. However, their distinctive features are not their only claim to fame. Pangolins are also highly valued for their scales, which are unfortunately driving them towards the brink of extinction due to illegal poaching and trafficking. In this article, we will explore 16 fascinating facts about pangolins, shedding light on their extraordinary characteristics, habits, and the challenges they face in the wild.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pangolins are unique mammals with scales made of keratin, and they are skilled climbers and swimmers. They face threats from illegal wildlife trade, but their gentle nature and remarkable adaptations make them fascinating creatures to protect.
  • Pangolins have a long, sticky tongue for capturing ants and termites, and they can roll up into a ball for self-defense. Despite their poor eyesight, they rely on their sense of smell and have the ability to adapt to different environments.
Table of Contents

Pangolins are the only mammals with scales.

Unlike other mammals, pangolins have a remarkable adaptation that sets them apart – they are covered in scales made of keratin, the same material that makes up human hair and nails.

There are eight species of pangolins.

The world is home to eight unique species of pangolins, each with its own distinct range and characteristics. These species include the Chinese pangolin, Indian pangolin, Sunda pangolin, and the critically endangered African pangolin.

Pangolins are excellent climbers.

Despite their stocky appearance, pangolins are skilled climbers, using their strong claws and prehensile tails to hang from branches and scale trees in search of food.

They have a long, sticky tongue.

Pangolins possess a remarkable tongue that can extend up to 40 centimeters in length. This long, sticky tongue helps them capture a large number of ants and termites, which make up the majority of their diet.

Pangolins have poor eyesight but rely on their sense of smell.

While their eyesight may not be their strongest sense, pangolins have an excellent sense of smell, which helps them locate their prey and navigate their surroundings.

Pangolins are incredibly shy and nocturnal.

These elusive creatures are primarily active at night, using their excellent hearing abilities and nocturnal vision to move stealthily through their habitats.

Pangolins curl up into a ball for self-defense.

When threatened, pangolins have a remarkable defense mechanism – they can roll themselves into a tight ball, protecting their vulnerable underbelly with their tough scales.

Pangolins don’t have teeth.

Unlike most mammals, pangolins lack teeth. Instead, they rely on their powerful stomach muscles and the stones they consume to grind up their food.

Pangolins are excellent swimmers.

Despite their clumsy appearance on land, pangolins are surprisingly agile swimmers. They can use their long tails to propel themselves through water with ease.

Pangolins are highly sought after for their scales.

Tragically, pangolins are facing a severe threat due to illegal wildlife trade. Their scales are erroneously believed to have medicinal properties in traditional medicine, driving their demand in certain regions.

Pangolins give birth to live young.

Unlike most other mammals with similar appearances, pangolins are not egg-laying creatures. They give birth to one or two offspring at a time, which are born with soft scales that harden as they grow.

Pangolins have a remarkable ability to dig.

With their strong forelimbs and sharp claws, pangolins are adept at digging burrows and finding shelter. They can excavate tunnels in the ground, providing them with protection from predators and harsh weather conditions.

Pangolins are an ancient species.

Pangolins have been around for millions of years and are considered one of the oldest lineages of mammals. Their unique adaptations have allowed them to survive and thrive through various geological periods.

Pangolins have a gentle and docile temperament.

Despite their formidable appearance, pangolins are not aggressive creatures. They generally have a calm and gentle disposition, choosing to roll up in a ball or retreat when they sense danger.

Pangolins have a unique defense against predators.

In addition to their ability to roll up into a ball, pangolins have an intriguing adaptation – their scales are extremely tough and act as a defense against predators, such as lions, tigers, and hyenas.

Pangolins are highly adaptable.

Pangolins have the remarkable ability to adapt to different environments, from forests to grasslands. Their flexibility allows them to thrive in various habitats across Asia and Africa.

Now that you’re armed with these 16 fascinating facts about pangolins, you have a deeper understanding and appreciation for these incredible creatures. Let’s work together to raise awareness and protect pangolins from the threats they face in the wild.


In conclusion, pangolins are fascinating creatures that deserve our attention and protection. Their unique features and behaviors make them truly remarkable. From their incredible armor-like scales to their ability to curl up into a ball when threatened, pangolins have captured the curiosity of people around the world.

However, pangolins are also facing numerous threats, including habitat loss and poaching. It is crucial that we take immediate action to conserve and protect these amazing animals.

By raising awareness about pangolins and supporting conservation efforts, we can ensure that future generations will have the opportunity to appreciate and learn from these remarkable creatures.


Q: What is a pangolin?

A: A pangolin is a mammal that is covered in scales and belongs to the family Manidae. There are eight species of pangolins, and they are found in Asia and Africa.

Q: What do pangolins eat?

A: Pangolins primarily feed on ants and termites. Their long sticky tongues are well-suited for consuming these small insects.

Q: Are pangolins endangered?

A: Yes, all eight species of pangolins are critically endangered. They are one of the most trafficked animals in the world due to the high demand for their scales and meat.

Q: Do pangolins have any predators?

A: Pangolins face threats from predators such as lions, leopards, and hyenas. However, their best defense mechanism is curling up into a tight ball, making it difficult for predators to attack.

Q: How long do pangolins live?

A: Pangolins have an average lifespan of around 20 years in the wild.

Q: Can pangolins swim or climb trees?

A: While pangolins are excellent climbers, they are not strong swimmers. They primarily live on the ground and use their strong claws to dig burrows.

Q: Can pangolins be kept as pets?

A: It is illegal to keep pangolins as pets in many countries due to their protected status and the risk of illegal trade. It is important to respect their natural habitat and contribute to their conservation instead.

Q: How can I help in pangolin conservation?

A: There are several ways to help in pangolin conservation, including supporting organizations that work to protect pangolins, spreading awareness about the threats they face, and avoiding the purchase of products made from pangolin scales.

Pangolins' unique characteristics make them one of nature's most intriguing creatures. Delving deeper into pangolin facts reveals even more astonishing truths about these scaly mammals. For those who can't get enough pangolin knowledge, two additional articles provide a wealth of information. "20 True Facts Pangolins Posse" offers a collection of verified pangolin facts, while "50 Interesting Pangolin Facts You Have to Know About" presents an extensive list of fascinating pangolin tidbits. Both articles promise to satisfy your curiosity and leave you with a greater appreciation for these remarkable animals.

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