Pangolin Definition | Characteristics & Facts



Pangolin Definition

A pangolin is a small to medium-sized mammal belonging to the family Manidae. They are characterized by their unique appearance with large overlapping scales covering their body, long snout, and sticky tongue.

Pangolin General Characteristics & Facts

Sure! Here are some general characteristics and facts about pangolins:


Pangolins are small to medium-sized mammals with a unique appearance. They are covered in large, protective scales made of keratin, giving them a distinctive armored look.


Depending on the species, pangolins can range from about 30 to 100 centimeters (12 to 39 inches) in length, not including their tail. They can weigh between 2 to 33 kilograms (4.4 to 73 pounds).


Pangolins are primarily nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active during the night and rest during the day.


They are solitary creatures and prefer to live alone, except during the mating season.


Pangolins are found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, savannas, and semi-deserts. They are most commonly found in Africa and Asia.


Pangolins are insectivorous and primarily feed on ants and termites.

No Teeth

Interestingly, pangolins do not have teeth. Instead, they rely on their strong stomach muscles and swallowed stones to grind up the insects they consume.

Curling Behavior

When threatened, pangolins curl up into a ball, using their sharp-scaled tail as a protective shield.

Conservation Status

All eight species of pangolins are currently listed as threatened or endangered due to illegal wildlife trade and habitat destruction.

Unique Mammal

Pangolins are the only mammals in the world covered in scales, making them a fascinating and distinct group of animals.

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Physical Characteristics of Pangolin

Certainly! Here are the physical characteristics of pangolins:

  1. Scales: Pangolins are covered in large, tough, overlapping scales made of keratin. These scales act as a protective armor, defending them against predators.
  2. Body Shape: Pangolins have a unique body shape, with a long snout and a small, rounded head. Their body is cylindrical and elongated, and they have short legs with powerful claws.
  3. Tail: Pangolins have a long, prehensile tail that is used for climbing trees and balancing. Some species also use their tail as a defense mechanism by curling up into a ball and using the tail to shield their vulnerable underside.
  4. No Teeth: Pangolins lack teeth in their mouth. Instead, they have a long, sticky tongue that can be longer than their body. They use this tongue to capture ants and termites, their primary food source.
  5. Tongue Adaptations: The tongue of pangolins is attached near the pelvis and extends all the way into their chest cavity, allowing them to reach deep into termite mounds and ant nests to extract their prey.
  6. Size: Pangolins vary in size depending on the species. They can range from around 30 centimeters (12 inches) for the smallest species to up to 100 centimeters (39 inches) for the largest.
  7. Weight: Pangolins can weigh anywhere from 2 to 33 kilograms (4.4 to 73 pounds), again depending on the species.
  8. Nocturnal: Most pangolins are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night and rest during the day to avoid predators.
  9. Eyes and Ears: Pangolins have small eyes and ears, as they primarily rely on their sense of smell and touch to navigate and locate food.

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Scientific Classification of Pangolin

Family: Manidae

Order: Pholidota

Genus: Manis (Asian Pangolins)

Genus: Phataginus (African Pangolins)

Genus: Smutsia (African Pangolins)

Key Location of Pangolin

  • Africa:  (Various countries across sub-Saharan Africa)
  • Asia (India, Southeast Asia, China, and other parts of Southeast Asia)
  • Sri Lanka (Pangolins are found in Sri Lanka, which is an island nation in South Asia)
  • Indonesia (Pangolins inhabit certain regions of Indonesia, a Southeast Asian country)
  • Malaysia (Pangolins can be found in Malaysia, a country in Southeast Asia)
  • Philippines (Some species of pangolins are found in the Philippines, an archipelago in Southeast Asia)
  • Nepal (Pangolins are present in certain areas of Nepal, a South Asian country)
  • Bangladesh (Pangolins inhabit parts of Bangladesh, a South Asian country)
  • Thailand (Pangolins can be found in certain regions of Thailand, a Southeast Asian country)
  • Vietnam (Pangolins inhabit certain areas of Vietn

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Pangolin FAQs

What does Pangolin eat?

Pangolins primarily eat ants and termites. Their diet consists mainly of insects, and they use their long, sticky tongue to catch their prey. They have specialized adaptations, such as strong claws for digging into termite mounds and ant nests, as well as a thick, protective layer of scales to shield them from the bites of their prey.

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