5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Pangolin

About the Author

Gayane Margaryan is African Wildlife Foundation's former Director of Marketing & Creative. Gayane is passionate about communicating the message of conservation through new tools and technologies and converting audiences into wildlife advocates. She is a graduate of the University of Florida,… More

Pangolin close up

Did you know that today is World Pangolin Day? It’s a whole day dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness about this unique mammal—which is not only the world’s only truly scaly mammal but also, unfortunately, its most trafficked. In honor of World Pangolin Day, here are five facts that you probably didn’t know about this interesting creature.

1. They wear heavy armor
The pangolin’s scales make up 20 percent of its total body weight.

Pangolin close up

2. They are toothless
Pangolins have no teeth; instead they rely on a gizzard-like stomach that is adapted for grinding food.


3. Their scales are dangerous weapons

Pangolins use their scales as tools for self-defense. If threatened, the pangolin will perform a cutting motion with its scales if anything is inserted between them—that’s a nasty shock for a strange paw or snout!

Pangolin curled up in a ball

4. Their tongues may be longer than their bodies
A pangolin’s tongue can be up to 16 inches in length. They use these extraordinarily long tongues to reach insects burrowed underground. 


5. They are threatened with extinction
Less than one year ago, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognized the threat to Africa’s pangolins by scaling their status up to ‘Vulnerable’ due to the effects of illicit hunting and poaching.


Learn more about these unique creatures.


Photos 1 & 3 by Daryl and Sharna Balfour / Photos 2,4,5,6 by Keith and Colleen Begg