Pangolins As Pets

Are pangolins suitable as pets? Not at all, no! Although these creatures are unique in many ways, they should be left in nature, much like the majority of wild species. This species is difficult to maintain as a pet and is often prohibited in most nations. Sadly, most pangolins kept in captivity pass very quickly.

What Is A Pangolin?

Let’s first talk about what pangolins are, before I get into why they shouldn’t be kept as pets.

Being the only mammal with scales alone makes pangolins intriguing creatures. The desire to acquire them is frequently related to this as well. They are simply too unique and amazing.

However, when humans discuss them, they frequently refer to them as anteaters or aardvarks. But their nutrition is the one thing they have in common. These species aren’t actually related at all. Instead, scientists discovered that they had diverged, giving them their own order, the Pholidota.

Why are pangolins trafficked?

Unfortunately, pangolins’ uniqueness exposes them to unspeakable violence. In China and Vietnam, pangolin scales are employed in traditional remedies, and its meat is prized as a delicacy.

Chinese customs seized a whopping 123 tons of pangolin scales in 2019 alone. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the medicinal or physiological advantages of pangolin scales in contemporary medicine.

To meet the demand of the international wildlife trade for their scales and flesh, over a million pangolins have been unlawfully taken from the wild in the last ten years.

Do pangolins make good pets?

It is forbidden to keep pangolins as pets, because they make dreadful pets. Any environment other their native habitat is not conducive to their well-being.

In reality, several zoos that have attempted to keep pangolins have discovered that the majority pass away within the first year of being kept in captivity owing to stress or food problems.

How Much Is A Pet Pangolin?

Neither a pet store nor a breeder is offering pangolins for sale. So how am I supposed to know how much a newborn pangolin costs? Sincerely, I have no idea.

However, I am aware that if you have enough money, you can probably purchase one. However, you would need to look at the gray market and network with criminals. No one wants to interact with those individuals.

Furthermore, the price would be far higher than $10,000 for a single person. I made that estimate after researching meat prices in Asia. A kilo of beef costs almost $3,000 at restaurants. Therefore, the cost of bringing a live animal into the US should be substantially higher, right?

The most trafficked mammal in the world?

They undoubtedly rank among the most heavily trafficked mammals in Asia and, to a greater extent, Africa. In nations like China and Vietnam, pangolins are in great demand. Scales from pangolins are utilized in traditional medicine and folk medicines, and their flesh is prized as a delicacy.

National and international legislation protect all eight species of pangolin. However, the illicit pangolin trade is still expanding globally.

An estimated 116,990–233,980 pangolins were reportedly killed between 2011 and 2013, yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. According to experts, seizures may only account for 10% of the total amount of pangolins sold illegally as wildlife.

Is It Ethical To Have A Pangolin As A Pet?

Your values aren’t the sole consideration in this case. Why should you spend a lot of money on a pet that will pass very soon after you get it, aside from the misery the animal is going through and its inclusion on the “red list”?

I don’t know, and I wager that no pet owner will either.

How are pangolins trafficked?

Pangolins typically hide from hunters in trees and are pulled down or burned to death by fires. Pangolins attempt to flee but are caught and put into sacks as they suffocate and lose consciousness.

In fact, the word “pangolin” means “roller” in Malay. Although pangolins may coil up to protect themselves from natural predators, poachers using machetes will smash them until they are immobile.

Pangolins are then tossed into a kettle of boiling water and cooked alive while still bleeding.

Is It Legal To Keep A Pet Pangolin?

No, it is illegal to maintain a pet pangolin in the US, Canada, or the majority of other western nations. Furthermore, it is irrelevant if you reside in a state with strong regulations, such as California, or not.

Pangolins are on the highest degree of protection, which is the cause of it. They were included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

This indicates that it is completely prohibited to trade live, dead, or fragments of animals.

The same substance that makes up fingernails, hair, and horn also makes up pangolin scales: keratin. While pangolin scales and rhino horn have no known medical benefits, traditional Chinese medicine uses them to treat conditions ranging from arthritis to breastfeeding problems.

Usually, the scales are dried and processed into a powder that may be made into a tablet.

For a long time, poachers and traffickers focused mostly on Asian species. However, since they are no longer as plentiful, traffickers are now resorting to African pangolins.

In April 2019, Singapore made two world-first captures of pangolin scales from an estimated 72,000 pangolins arriving from Nigeria, totaling 14.2 tons and 14 tons, respectively.

Why are pangolins endangered?

Particularly in China and Vietnam, pangolins are killed for their flesh, for use in traditional medicine, and as fashion items.

Since pangolin trafficking has become a massive (and illegal) industry, the population of these animals is significantly declining across Asia.

Pangolins Die In Captivity

Pangolins, however, are quite susceptible to stress. The majority of people pass away shortly after being taken from the wild. Frequently, those who are supposed to be transported from Africa to Asia don’t make it.

It’s not all that different even though we’re talking about keeping them as pets here. In addition to stress, the nutrition of pet pangolins is another factor in their brief lives.

This species only eats ants and termites, similar to anteaters or aardvarks. But in this instance, neither a replacement that people would like to eat nor one that would satisfy all of their needs exist.

Most pangolins kept in captivity only last a few weeks before starving to death.

Is there any good news for pangolins?

Yes! A pact signed by more than 180 states in 2016 declared an agreement to put an end to all legal pangolin commerce and further safeguard the species from extinction.

However, the commerce in the species is still banned. In an effort to safeguard species from wildlife crime, WWF collaborates with TRAFFIC. Through campaigns and collaborations with companies and governments, we strive to lower consumer demand for wildlife goods throughout Asia.

China raised protection for the indigenous Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) to the highest degree in June 2020, closing a critical gap for the species’ domestic use.

In addition, the government has decided to outlaw the use of pangolin scales in traditional medicine, which is a significant victory considering that an estimated 195,000 pangolins were trafficked in 2019 for their scales alone (Challender, et. al, 2020).

Where do pangolins live?

Native to Asia and Africa, pangolins. They inhabit savanna and forest ecosystems. While ground-dwelling animals dig deep holes to nest in, tree-climbing species build homes for themselves in hollow trees.

What adaptations do pangolins have?

The ability to use powerful muscles to cover their ears and noses to defend themselves from ant attacks is one of the most peculiar adaptations that pangolins have made to their life as ant-eating creatures.

Even more astonishing is the fact that pangolins use their noses to locate ants, therefore they hunt with their nostrils open and feed with their nostrils closed.

Characteristics and behavior

Pangolins live alone and are most active at night. The majority of animals inhabit the ground, although some—like the black-bellied pangolin—can also climb.

They may be as big as a large housecat or as long as four feet. They are known as “scaly anteaters” because they are primarily covered in keratin scales, which are the same substance as human fingernails. They may discharge a foul liquid from a gland at the base of their tails as a protection strategy in addition to curling up into a ball like an armadillo when attacked.

Pangolins, like anteaters, have long snouts and even longer tongues that they use to slurp up termites and ants that they dig out of mounds with their strong front claws. They have the ability to cover their ears and nostrils while feeding to keep ants out.

Pangolins are more closely related to bears, cats, and dogs even though they resemble anteaters and armadillos in appearance and behavior.

Are pangolins the only mammals with scales?

The closest relatives of the pangolin are carnivores, yet they are the only mammals with scales.

With the exception of the sides of the face, the inside portions of the legs, the neck, and the belly, the majority of a pangolin’s head and tail are covered with horny, sharp, and overlapping scales. While the animal’s scales continue to develop throughout its lifetime, they are crushed down as it burrows and digs for food.


Pangolins exclusively interact with one another during mating and childbirth. Some pangolin dads will remain in the den until the only youngster is capable of living on their own. Infants have soft scales at birth that become hard after two days, yet they cling to their mothers’ tails until weaning occurs at around three months.

Do pangolins lay eggs?

Eggs are not laid by pangolins. Once a year, males and females mate, and the females give birth to one to three young at a time.

Baby pangolins, sometimes referred to as pangopups, are born with soft, white scales that, after a few days, harden. A newborn pangolin will cling to its mother’s scales in order to ride on her back.

How many vertebrae do pangolins have?


The fact that pangolins have more vertebrae than any other animal makes them special in another manner. White- and black-bellied, Indian, Philippine, and Sunda pangolins are arboreal species, and they can climb trees thanks to their semi-prehensile tails.

Additionally, females carry their pups on their tails. The longest tail of any mammal, the black-bellied pangolin’s possesses 46 or 47 vertebrae.

What are the different types of pangolins?

The pangolin is found in eight different species. The long-tailed pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla), the tree pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), the gigantic pangolin (Smutsia gigantea), and the Temminck’s ground pangolin are all found in Africa (Smutsia temminckii).

The Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis), and Chinese pangolin are the other four pangolin species that reside in Asia (Manis pentadactyla).

Does anything predate pangolins?

Few predators are able to kill pangolins because of how well-protected they are by their scales. Large cats like leopards, tigers, and lions are often the only predators that can consume pangolins, while other strong creatures like hyenas can occasionally make it through.

However, it’s not rare for a pangolin’s scales to prove impervious, and after failing to injure it for a while, a pride of lions will walk away, leaving the pangolin to trundle away to safety.


The Singapore Red Data Book, published in 2008, classifies the Sunda pangolin as “critically endangered.” In Singapore, where fast urbanization has caused significant habitat loss, pangolins are most at risk.

When pangolins venture too far from the wooded regions into roadways, they frequently suffer injuries or are killed by driving automobiles.

Pangolins are often hunted for their scales and flesh, the latter of which is said to have therapeutic benefits.

Due to the pangolins’ poor fertility rate—only 1 to 2 offspring are produced annually—the pangolin population is declining far more quickly than it can replenish.

Pangolins Aren’t Domesticated

Pangolins are not kept as pets. It is impossible to tame this species, unlike other wild animals. You should avoid keeping a pet pangolin because of this fact alone.

But it gets worse—they are unable to be trained to use the bathroom, and because of their powerful scent glands, your home would begin to smell precisely like it would if you choose to have a pet honey badger or binturong.

Pangolin pets experience significant levels of stress in noisy and active situations. That can cause your pet to act aggressively and develop into a vicious monster. It could make the decision to bite you or obliterate all of your furnishings.