Temminck’s Ground Pangolin

Latin name: Manis Temminckii

The Temminck’s ground Pangolin is the second largest of the four species of pangolin. Other variants include the white bellied pangolin, black bellied pangolin and giant pangolin. The Temminck’s pangolin is the most common and widespread pangolin species. Its habitat ranges upward from southern Chad and southern Sudan up to South East Africa and northern parts of South Africa.

Does The Pangolin Walk on Two Legs?

Bipedal, the pangolin is famed for it’s shuffling gait where it walks on its back legs while its smaller front legs counter balance its strides. The broad tail also balances the pangolin’s gait. It’s front legs are sometimes used when hills become to steep to walk on two hind legs. Although they burrow shallow sites to dig out ants, pangolins do not dig their own burrows, finding vacant burrows to live in that have been left vacant by other animals such as anteaters.

Diet of Temminck’s Pangolin

The pangolin’s diet is totally reliant on ants and termites, which are dug out of shallow entrances of their ant hills and termite mounds. Temminck’s pangolins have sharp fore claws they use to scrape away hard earth breaking up at the dry earth to reveal ants or termites. Then anteaters will flick their sticky tongues in and out lap to lap up as many as possible.

Fantastic Facts About The Pangolin

  • Pangolins are the only mammal with scales, which are movable and cover the body apart from the face and the belly.
  • Pangolins have small heads and protective eye lids to protect from termite bites.
  • They have sticky long tongues for catching ants and termites.
  • Weighing 7-18 kg, they have five claws on each limb.


Temminck’s pangolins live solitary lives with the males only spending up to three days with females to mate. Males will often fight each other over the right to mate with a female pangolin. Pangolins have excellent smell. Pangolins mark trees with urine, feces and secretion from their anal gland in order to find a mate.

Temminck’s Ground Pangolin

After about five months the pangolin may give birth to one or two babies. The baby will cling on to the mother’s back when they venture out of the burrow after four weeks for the first time.

Defensive Ball and Nocturnal habits

The pangolin is famous for rolling up into a defensive ball at the slightest sign of danger. The ball of interlocking keratin scales which makes up almost 22 % of the mammal’s weight is almost impossible for a predator to open. Pangolins often stay underground during the day and then forage for prey at night. Using their keen sense of smell they’ll seek out ant and termite hills.

Conservation Status of The Temminck’s Pangolin

Vulnerable. Temminck’s (ground) pangolin’s habitat is under threat by humans due to agriculture expansion and deforestation. In some countries they are eaten as bush meat and their scales collected for jewelry. While in China they are prized for medicinal properties including anti septic balms.

Temminck’s Ground Pangolin

Pangolins in Literature

Father bit his lip; he had a Pangolin’s last and trusty means of defence: a defensive ball. A foul-mouthed vulture like Tamaa Tai could not penetrate it; no, he wouldn’t coil up yet; an excitement welled within him; he was not sure why he felt excitement welling. Was it to hear the vulture’s poisonous words or was it to risk a savage wrestle with the fiend or both?

The harbinger (vulture) paused, jerking his head up and down like a feeding chicken, trying to suppress an uncontrollable anger and hatred of the living Pangolin; finally, a bent grin appeared around his beak as if he would not allow himself to miss the opportunity to install terror in the pangolin. “Yes, your time is coming to an end – friend of the scum cub.”

E.G Price, The Zambezi Allies

Q & A About the Temminck’s Pangolin

Where are pangolins found in the wild in Africa?

Temminck’s pangolins are found in the wild in south east Africa and southern Africa and sometimes populate central Africa.

What type of terrain do Temminck’s pangolins like?

Temminck’s pangolins like savannah land with grass which is near a water supply. They will live near ant colonies and termite mounds.

What day is World Pangolin Day?

Every third Saturday in February to raise awareness of this endangered animal.

Are pangolins banned from international trade?

Pangolins are banned from international trade but remain the world’s most trafficked animal according to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

How many teeth do pangolins have?

Pangolins have no teeth.

How many ants and termites do Temminck’s pangolins eat?

The Temminck’s Pangolin is estimated to eat 6 million termites and ants a month.

How many pangolins are trafficked?

According to Traffic over a million pangolins were trafficked over the last decade. 23 tonnes of pangolin scales were seized by Chinese Customs in December.

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