Chinese Pangolin

(Manis pentadactyla)




Facts about this animal

Pangolins are distinguished from all other Old World mammals by their unique covering of horny scales, which are razor-sharp and overlap like shingles on a roof.


The Chinese pangolin is a medium-sized, relatively short-tailed pangolin with a head-body length of 45-60 cm and a tail length of 25-40 cm.


The eyes are large for a pangolin, with thick eyelids, and the external ears are well developed. The tongue is long an narrow. There are large salivary glands, and the jaws lack teeth completely.


Fore and hind feet have five toes each. The claws on the hind feet are much less strong than those on the fore feet. There is usually a naked pad on the underside of the tip of the tail.


The scales are small with bristles in between them and extend to the lower parts of the fore and hind legs. They are dark brown to blackish brown, the hair and unscaled skin greyish white to brownish white.


Pangolins are solitary and nocturnal. They climb trees and swim well. When threatened they curl up into a ball with the face tucked under the tail.


After a gestation period of probably about 10 weeks (?), the female gives birth to one single young, rarely twins, usually in winter and early spring.


Pangolins feed on ants and termites. The range of the Chinese pangolin is largely identical with the distribution of the termite species Coptotermes formosanus and Cyclotermes formosanus. It is estimated that one adult pangolin can consume more than 70 million insects annually.

Did you know?
That many years ago a Chinese pangolin, which had escaped from its enclosure at Prague Zoo, was killed because people believed that it was a crocodile? Although the water was pretty cold (the escape took place in November), the animal had crossed the Moldava River, which, at the zoo, is about 40 m wide. It then walked for about 10 km before it was killed.


Name (Scientific) Manis pentadactyla
Name (English) Chinese Pangolin
Name (French) Pangolin à queue courte ou Pangolin de Chine
Name (German) Ohren-Schuppentier
Name (Spanish) Pangolín chino
Local names Chinese: Wing-lo
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Bhutan, Cambodia, China (including Hainan), India (Assam and Sikkim), Lao People's Democratic Republic, northern Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan, northern Thailand, northern Vietnam
Habitat The species is found in a range of different habitats, including primary and secondary forests, bamboo forests, miscanthus grasslands and agricultural fields.
Wild population Unknown, but numbers are declining (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 2 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Chinese Pangolin


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 75 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Alex Sliwa

Why do zoos keep this animal

Zoos keep Chinese pangolins primarily for educational reasons as they are rather extraordinary animals, looking more like a reptile than a mammal to the average zoo visitor. Zoos in the species' range keep pangolins also for animal welfare reasons, as these animals are often captured by private individuals and subsequently confiscated by the authorities. Zoos also contribute to science by collecting data and carrying out research on these animals.