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The word Pangolin comes from ‘penggulung,’ the Malay word for roller – the action a pangolin takes in self-defense

A startled pangolin will cover its head with its front legs, exposing its scales to any potential predator. If touched or grabbed it will roll up completely into a ball, while the sharp scales on the tail can be used to lash out.

Pangolins are also referred to as ‘scaly anteaters’ because of their preferred diet – ants.

Four species of pangolin can be found in Africa, and four in Asia.

The four species that live in Africa are:Black-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla)

White-bellied pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis)

Giant Ground pangolin (Smutsia gigantea)

Temminck’s Ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii)

The four species that live in Asia are:

Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata)

Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis)

Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica)


Pangolins have large, curved claws that they use for excavating ant and termite nests, as well as for pulling bark off trees and logs to find their insect prey.

Pangolins’ scales are made of keratin, the same protein that makes up our own hair and nails, rhino horns, the “teeth” of baleen whales, and the claws of bears (and other clawed animals). Their scales cover the entire body from head to tip of tail — except for their undersides, which are covered with a few sparse hairs.

Scaly anteaters are said to reach sexual maturity after two years, and typically only give birth to a single young per pregnancy. Their gestation period is thought to last between 69150 days, varying by species. When born, the babies weigh around 8-450 grams (about 3-16 ounces), depending on the species, and have soft scales that harden fairly rapidly. Young are usually weaned at around three months of age.

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