Unknown in the wild. Up to 20 years in captivity.
12 to 39 inches
3.5 to 7.3 pounds
Lions, hyenas, leopards
The ground pangolin has a scaly appearance, which is made up of keratin, or the stuff that makes up finger nails. Between 900 and 1000 scales cover the bodies of these walking pinecones. Pangolins will curl up into a tight ball when provoked and use their sharp scales to repel predators. Furthermore, Pangolins can emit a noxious gas from their bowels like a skunk to turn away predators. Pangolins do not have teeth but rather have a gizzard-like stomach. They will even eat sand or rocks to help with digestion. The tongue of a pangolin is very long and can reach lengths up to 16 inches. They can use their tongues to reach into termite and ant mounds.
Pangolins are very shy and elusive. Being nocturnal, pangolins spend their days curled in a ball, sleeping until dusk. The ground pangolin uses dug out holes or old aardvark homes for shelter during the day and will hunt for ants and termites at night. They can walk on all fours or walk only on their hind limbs.
Pangolins are the most trafficked animal in the entire world. Not only is their meat eaten as a delicacy in many Asian countries, but their scales are also used in traditional Eastern medicine. The scales are thought to cure cancer and asthma, but these scales are just made as the same component of finger nails. Around 100,000 pangolins are thought to be trafficked through China and Vietnam every year. This along with deforestation has led to a massive decrease in the number of pangolins around the world.