Armadillo vs. Pangolin

Armadillo vs. Pangolin

Armadillo and pangolin are morphologically similar, but genetically unrelated types of mammals. There are 20 species of armadillo that belong to the order Cingulata, and 8 species of pangolin that belong to the order Pholidota. Armadillos can be found in South, Central and North America. They inhabit tropical forests and areas near the rivers, streams and dry creeks. Pangolins can be found in sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia. They prefer forested areas. Both armadillo and pangolin have narrow nose and long, sticky tongue which is designed for diet based on ants and termites. Besides accelerated habitat loss, armadillo and pangolin are threatened by uncontrolled hunting (because of their skin, shell, scales and meat). Few species of armadillo and all pangolins are listed as threatened. Aside from similar lifestyle, morphology and diet, armadillo and pangolin differ in:


Armadillo is generally larger than pangolin. It can reach 5 to 59 inches in length and 3 ounces to 119 pounds of weight, while pangolin can reach 12 to 39 inches in length and 4 to 40 pounds of weight.

Morphology of Armor

Both armadillo and pangolin have protective shell on the surface of the body. Armadillo has rigid bony shell on the shoulders and hips and number of bands (connected via flexible skin) on the back and flanks. Each species has unique number of bands which are used for identification of armadillos in the wild. Top of the head and upper parts of the limbs and tail are also armored. Pangolin's entire body is covered with flat, leaf-like, sharp plates which create scaly appearance (pangolin looks like large brown "pine cone").


Some pangolins live in the tree holes and use their sharp claws and prehensile tail to climb on the trees. Other species dig burrows and spend their life on the ground. Unlike them, armadillos are terrestrial creatures which spend their entire life on the solid ground.

Protection Against Predators

Pangolins curl their body into a ball and expose sharp plates to protect themselves against predators. Armadillos dig burrows and hide under the ground when they want to avoid predators. Only few species of armadillo can curl their body into a ball due to very rigid bony shell.


Both armadillo and pangolin are specialized for diet based on ants and termites. Some armadillos eat grubs and small invertebrates that can be found on the solid ground, while pangolins strip bark from the trees to find insects and larvae hidden underneath.


Pregnancy in armadillo lasts 60 to 120 days and ends with 1 to 8 babies. Females of 7 species of armadillo (genus Dasypus) always give birth to 4 genetically identical babies (quadruplets). Pregnancy in pangolin lasts 120 to 150 days and ends with 1 to 3 babies.

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