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Matilda Cruz
Matilda double majored in zoology and animal behavior at the University of Hawaii. She’s been an animal lover from a young age and knew she wanted to study them even more for her career. She’s always looking for ways to spread her animal knowledge.

The pangolin is one of the most unique-looking and instantly recognizable animals. Also known as scaly anteaters, these mammals are usually found in parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Pangolins are the most trafficked animal on earth. Their scales are valuable, and their meat is a prized delicacy believed to have medicinal qualities in traditional Chinese medicine.

Pangolins are a critically endangered species.

Pangolin Behavior

These animals are shy and solitary by nature. They spend most of their time on the ground and are active at night. When pangolins encounter a threat, they curl up into a defensive ball. At the base of their tails lies a gland that releases a foul-smelling fluid.

Male and female pangolins only spend time together when they mate.

Physical Characteristics

Pangolins vary in size according to their species and geographic location. Some are no larger than house cats; others can measure up to four feet long or more. Their scaly hide made from keratin-what humans have in their nails-gives them their reptilian appearance.

Pangolins have long snouts and long, thin tongues with which they scoop up ants and termites. Their sharp front claws allow them to dig into mounds and anthills. They can close off their noses and ears to keep out insects when they’re feeding.

More surprising facts about pangolins:

  • Despite looking like anteaters, pangolins are more closely related to cats, dogs, and bears
  • There are eight species of pangolins
  • They are the only mammals with scales
  • They are bipedal
  • They cannot see or hear well but have a keen sense of smell
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  1. All the old pictures misrepresent the walking posture of pangolins: their front feet have long claws which are turned forward as pangolins have footpads to walk on. My family had a live pangolin for a while in our house many years ago.
    Louise in California


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