Fact Zap

Pangolins - Endangered Animal Species

Pangolins are small animals found in wild habitats. They are covered in tough scales. When attacked, they roll up to become a scaly ball. Why are they hunted and smuggled ?

Image by Louis Mornaud @ Unspalsh

Pangolins are scaly animals. They eat ants, termites and larvae of insects. They are commonly called scaly anteaters.

Scaly Mammals

Pangolins are mammals. Baby Pangolins are called pango-pups. Pangolins scales are tough. They are made of keratin , the same substance found in human nails and hair. Pangolins are the only mammals with keratin scales.


Pangolins roll up to become a scaly ball when attacked. They lash out with their scaly tails, injuring predators. Pangolin scales are strong armours protecting them from big predators like lions and tigers. Pango-pups are born with soft scales. Pangolin mums keep pango-pups safe by wrapping them with their tails when attacked.


Pangolins are found in Africa and Asia. Asian Pangolins are found in India, China, Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore and Vietnam. There are 8 different species of Pangolins today. All 8 are hunted illegally.

Pangolins at risk

Pangolin scales are used in traditional native medicines of Africa and East Asia. Pangolins are hunted and their scales are smuggled to countries like China, Vietnam, Nigeria, etc. There is no scientific proof for health benefits of Pangolin meat or scales. But still, Pangolins are the world's most hunted and smuggled mammal.