The most trafficked animal on Earth.

The MOST TRAFFICKED animal on this planet.

How did we ever let an animal gain such a title??

Today’s animal is the pangolin.


(That baby is so freaking CUTE!)

Anyway, what looks like a reptile is actually a mammal! It’s often mistaken for an artichoke or a dragon when people see one for the first time.

Pangolins have been around for at least 80 million years. There are 8 species that still exist today. Chinese, Malayan, Indian and Palawan are the four Asian speices and the Tree pangolin, Giant ground pangolin, Cape pangolin and Long-tailed pangolin are the African species. These creatures are the only mammals in the world covered in scales. The scales are made of keratin which is found in our fingernails, bird talons and rhino horns. These scales make up 20% of a pangolin’s weight!

Depending on the species, you can find them on ground digging or in trees climbing around. The ground species are capable of digging holes big enough that a human can fit and stand up in! The name came to be thanks the the Malay which is the language of Malaysia and Indonesia and literally translates to “something that rolls up” because these critters can roll into near impenetrable balls when threatened.

Besides rolling into the hardest ball, they also emit a noxious smelling acid from glands near their butt. It’s actually quite similar to what a skunk does; another defense mechanism.

These animals are prehistoric. Originally scientists thought pangolins were in the same family as anteaters and armadillos — the Xenarthra family, but new evidence suggest that they are more closely related to the Carnivora family which is a very diverse order containing wolves, bears and hyenas. That’s pretty mind boggling considering they don’t have teeth and their diet consists of termites and ants.

Now back to what I said at the beginning. This animal is the most trafficked animal on Earth because their main predator is most obviously humans. Humans capture and smuggle pangolins into the black market for their scales and their meat. Their meat is considered a delicacy while their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are known for relieving palsy, stimulating lactation and draining pus. The cost for just a kilogram of their scales can be $3000 or more. Because they don’t have teeth and their defense mechanism is to roll into a ball, they are, unfortunately, very easy for poachers to catch. It is said that pangolin sales make up 20 percent of the entire wildlife black market which translates to roughly 10,000 pangolin deaths per year.

Because they are so heavily trafficked, no one knows how long they live. The guess is only about 20 years in the wild because the oldest pangolin recorded lived to be 19 in captivity. One of the setbacks for saving this creature is they just don’t do well in captivity. Since they eat about 70 million insects a year, zoos are just not able to handle that type of volume and the pangolins end up suffering from malnutrition along with stress.

This is one animal that definitely needs some crazy awareness. Most people don’t even know it exists and scientists have no idea how many are left in the wild. On January 2nd of this year the animals were listed on the IUCN which bans the commercial trading of all eight species and their parts. Now we just need the individual states to increase protection rules on these animals to help in the fight to save the pangolin before its too late.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an adopt the pangolin link but if you would like more in depth information, click here.


29 thoughts on “Pangolin

  1. First time I am hearing of this animal. And I must say, when I saw the first two lines, I was expecting an animal that looks like it was the product of a koala bear and a squirrel (cuteness overload). but this is one queer looking animal!
    Interesting post!


    1. You aren’t the only one. If you look up cute baby animal pictures, I assure you, you’ll adore its queerlookingness. I don’t think squirrels are very cute but I’ll take koalas any day!


  2. I had never heard of the pangolin either. I can never understand why people continue the elimination of animals for such selfish purposes. It’s one thing eating animal meat from animals that are domesticated and in huge supply, another thing killing off poor innocent animals that are on the verge of total elimination. I really wish the people in the countries that demand them would open their eyes.


    1. I agree. Especially for an animal that has the lifespan of your average pet that will be tough to save even if the poaching stopped since they aren’t good in captivity ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


        1. One step at a time. Making people aware is always the best one. Then at least the information is out there and from there it’s up to the individuals to decide what they want to do.


          1. I’m sorry to be a pessimist, but some people, even if aware, just don’t care. Even if you make it illegal to kill a certain animal some people think it is even more exciting to do so, and of course then the meat or head or fur is even higher priced on the black market.


            1. Your’e absolutely right. And that’s when you subtly think about those videos where yous see animals strike back and may or may not make a silent wish about karma.


              1. Yes, sometimes it would be nice to see the animal win. I felt that way at a bull fight I went to once. Never again would I go to one. I didn’t know when I went that they actually kill the poor things. Actually, in some countries like Portugal, and I think France, they don’t. Though bulls are not endangered.


                1. I didn’t know that either. That’s why I stopped going to circuses. But people have a voice, and circuses have changed their ways that don’t involve endangered animals or have gone out of business completely. Baby steps. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Nel, reading this is like looking at Animal Planet. Really enjoyed reading it because I learnt something new. I’m sorry that these creatures have such a hard time. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Mmm… I actually saw a documentary about pangolins and the black market trade.. uh… maybe half a year ago? Totally heart breaking and these animals are just so defenseless against humans… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


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