The pangolin, also known as the scaly anteater, gets its name from its covering of thick, overlapping scales. These scales are made from keratin, just as our hair and nails - and, for that matter, the horn of the rhinoceros - are. They are an effective protection against predators, though, when they roll themselves into a tight ball. Its strong front legs are well adapted for burrowing and they use their rear legs and tail for balance and to remove the excavated dirt. As its alternative name implies the pangolin uses its extremely long, sticky tongue to feed predominately on ants and termites, although sometimes it includes other invertebrates. Although most species are ground dwellers, there are several that are adept climbers some of which even sleep in on branches or in tree forks.
Pangolins are found through Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and are under threat from land clearance, which is robbing them of their habitat, and the illegal wildlife trade. This has made them one of the most endangered mammals in the world.