Pangolin - Manis temminckii

• Species List • Dung Key • Tracks Key • Silouette Key • Distribution Matrix • Biomes and Vegetation Types • References • The African Safari Series •

Hedgehog - Atelerix frontalis | Bushbabies - Lorisidae | Greater cane rat - Thryonomys swinderianus | Baboons and Monkeys - Cercopithecidae | Pangolin - Manis temminckii | Antbear - Orycteropus afer | Hares - Leporidae | Squirrels - Sciuridae | Spring Hare - Pedietes capensis | Porcupine - Hystrix africaeausralis | Jackals and Foxes - Canidae | Weasels, Polecats, Badgers and Otters - Mustelidae | Civets, Suricates, Genets and Mongooses - Viveridae | Haenas - Hayenidae | Cats - Felidae | Hyraxes - Procaviidae | Pigs - Suidae | Antelope - Bovidae | Rhinocerus - Rhinocerotidae | Zebras - Equidae | Hippopotamus - Hippopotamus amphibius | Giraffe - Giraffa cameloperdalis | Elephant - Loxodonata africana


Afrikaans Itermagog Shona Haka Shangaan Shikwaru

F 3cm
H 5cm

Distribution Dung
4 cm

Unusual features/differences from similar animals

The whole upper body and tail as well as the sides of the legs are covered by overlapping horny plates. The ears are just slits in the side of the head. The tail is concave on the inside to accommodate the body when the pangolin rolls up into a ball to protect itself. The anal gland produces a smelly secretion.

Male/Female Differences

Males are bigger than females


A wide range of habitats, Does not occur in swamps, forests, open grassland or desert.


 Mainly ants and termites.


Single young are born of gestation of 140 days. Babies take solid food at 4 weeks.

Behavior and Habits

Solitary and active at night. Hides during the day in burrows, holes, or piles of vegetation. The Pangolin walks on its hind legs and the front feet not touching the ground. Ants' nests are found by smell, clawed open and ants licked up with the long round, sticky tongue which folds  into a pouch in the mouth when not used. Pangolins are toothless. As a defense mechanism the pangolin rolls up in a ball with its head protected by its tail. The pangolin slides its tail sideways across its body and the scales have sharp edges which can inflict deep cuts. The young ride on the base of their mother's tail or on her back when they are older. The mother rolls up around her young when alarmed, enclosing its head and most of its body.


When moving in dry grass or under bush, pangolins can be quite noisy. They are shy, and will "freeze" at the least sign of danger. Their brown colour blends well with the background, making them well camouflaged unless they move. The are slow movers and can be followed at a walk but they can move faster running raised on the back legs. They raise the body into a near vertical position on the back legs, balancing on the broad tail to sniff the wind to locate danger.

Field sign

Rounded dung, 4cm long,  containing termite exoskeletons and sand particles. Opened ants' nests.


Safari Media Africa/C.A. Mitchell 2000-2012

Developed by