Pangolins are African mammals that can roll themselves into such a tight ball that it takes considerable force to unroll them. They use powerful muscles and the cutting action of their armor-plated scales to inflict serious wounds on any animal that tries to get between the plates.  The weight of the protective keratinous scales and skin make up about 20% of the pangolin’s weight.  They clean themselves by using their hind claws to reach under their scales and scratch their skin.

Photo by: J. Dennis /

Pangolins have anal scent glands that emit strong, foul smelling secretions.  They are toothless so they have  gizzard-like stomachs for grinding food.  The grinding is helped along by the small stones and sand they eat.  They have no external ears, although their hearing is good. Their sense of smell is well-developed, but their sight is poor.

Pangolins have tongues up to 16 inches long.  In a resting position the tongue is pulled back and stored in a pouch in the chest. They use their sense of smell to locate termite and ant nests.  Large salivary glands coat the long tongue with a gummy mucus to which ants and termites stick.

The young are 6 inches long and weigh 12 ounces at birth. Their pale, soft scales begin to harden by the second day. The baby is folded in the mother’s lap or rolled-up body.

Photo source: CBC Radio As it Happens

Nursed for 3 to 4 months, babies begin to eat at 1 month. At this time the infant begins to accompany the mother, often riding on the base of her tail.  When Mom senses danger, she rolls up with Baby inside.

Pangolin’s have prehensile tails that can grab branches and allows them to hang upsidedown in trees, like monkeys.

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4 thoughts on “Pangolin

  1. I love these animals! But then, I love Capybarras, found in Brasil and probably other SA countries. They are like giant rats, very social and friendly, go around in family groups.
    Thanks for this amazing new learning experience!
    (I may be spelling the name wrong.)

  2. Pingback: Pity the Pangolin | Sauntering at the Edge of Heaven

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