What endangered African animal is also known as a scaly anteater? Pangolins! There are four African species of pangolin: Black-bellied, White-bellied, Giant Ground, and Temmick’s Ground. Pangolins’ closest living relatives are anteaters, armadillos, and sloths. They are native to 15 African countries. The word pangolin comes from penggulung, the Malay word for roller.

    Pangolin species vary in size from 3.5 to 73 pounds. The scales are made of keratin, and account for 20% of a pangolin’s weight. Pangolins’ diet consist of mainly of ants and termites. They also eat flies, worms, and crickets. Pangolins live for about 20 years.

    Pangolins are well adapted for digging with their strong front legs. If a pangolin is touched by a predator or other larger animal, it will roll up into a ball. Pangolins reach maturity at two years, and will most likely give birth to a single offspring. Pangolin babies nurse for three to four months. However, the babies can eat ants and termites at one month old.

    Things are not good for the pangolin. They are in high demand in Asia and Africa for their meat and scales. Hundreds of thousands of pangolins are traded illegally each year. Hopefully, things will get better for the future of pangolins.