Manis pentadactylaChinese pangolin

Geographic Range

Manis pentadactyla, or the Chinese pangolin, ranges westward through Nepal, Assam, and eastern Himalaya, Burma, and China. The Chinese pangolin has been reported in Ramechap, Pannauti, Soondarijal, Barabisse, and Baglung.


Chinese pangolins inhabit subtropical and deciduous forests. In central Nepal these areas are on rolling hills where there are numerous, large termite mounds.

Manis pentadactyla is a burrowing species. They use their strong, clawed forefeet to dig burrows up to 8 ft deep. This can be done in three to five minutes. Once the pangolin is inside, it blocks the entrance. In some cases, they have been observed occupying the burrow of another animal.

Physical Description

The Chinese pangolin has been referred to as the scaly anteater because that is what it resembles. It measures around 60 cm from head to body with an 18 cm tail. Sexual dimorphism is present in this species.

Manis pentadactyla has about 18 rows of overlapping scales. The scales are accompanied by hairs, an unusual combination in mammals.

Chinese pangolins have a small pointed head and a narrow mouth. The nose is fleshy and has nostrils at the end. This bronze colored animal has a very round body. The forefeet and hind feet are equipped with sharp claws.

  • Average mass
    2350 g
    82.82 oz
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    3.727 W


In Nepal, Chinese pangolins reproduce during April and May. A single young is born measuring about 45 cm and weighing about 1 lb. The young come equipped with scales, although they are soft and flexible for the first two days of life. Although they are able to walk at birth, young pangolins are carried on their mother's tail or back. If the mother is threatend, she folds her offspring under her body with her tail. Male pangolins have been observed to exhibit remarkable parental instincts and share a burrow with the female and young.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring


Not much is known about Manis pentadactyla. Not only are they nocturnal animals, but they are extremely shy and slow moving creatures. They are not aggressive. They defend themselves by curling up into a ball, and they are also protected from predators by the hard scales that cover their bodies.

Manis pentadactyla is a predominantly terrestrial species. It has, however, been observed in the jungle canopy up to 20 ft above the ground.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Manis pentadactyla feed on insects, namely ants and termites. They use their claws to open up termite and ant mounds. Then they draw the prey into their mouths with their 25 cm long, sticky tongues.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The Chinese pangolin is considered a delicacy in many areas such as Vietnam and Hong Kong. They are hunted mainly for their meat.

Conservation Status

Manis pentadactyla live in many protected forests throughout their range. The biggest conservation problem that they face is being hunted for meat, and habitat destruction. Many of the protected parks that they inhabit cannot be patrolled and poachers hunt at will with little chance of being caught. Land development threatens the areas that are not protected.


Shelley Raynor (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


Accessed December 10, 1999 at

Accessed December 10, 1999 at