What’s a pangolin?

No, we’re not talking about a flightless Antarctic bird. The mysterious pangolin looks a little like an artichoke with legs, or an armadillo who has spent some time in the weight room. There are eight distinct species, all of which live in Africa and Asia. Because they’re very secretive, there’s a lot scientists still don’t know about them, but here’s a few things we do know:

1) They’re unique mammals.

Pangolins are the only mammals with scales. When threatened, they curl up into a tight ball, and the sharp scales keep predators out.

2) They’d make great members of KISS.

Pangolins’ tongues can be longer than their entire bodies and are covered with sticky saliva — perfect for catching the 70 million ants they eat in a year!

3) They travel in style.

Paul Hilton for WildAid

Baby pangolins travel in style, riding on their mothers’ tails.

4) But … they’re being slaughtered into extinction.

Paul Hilton for WildAid

Unfortunately, there’s more to the story: Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world. In 2011, an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 pangolins were captured in Vietnam alone. In fact, we have no idea how many pangolins are left in the wild, but scientists estimate that their numbers are dwindling to dangerous levels.

5) And we can save them with your help.

Paul Hilton for WCS

We’re fighting to save the pangolins and other animals that are being slaughtered into extinction — ecologically critical species like elephants, rhinos and tigers. Join the campaign to help us stop poaching and save animals facing extinction today!