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Armadillo vs. Pangolin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 25, 2023
Armadillo is a New World mammal with a leathery armor shell; pangolin is a scaly anteater found in Africa and Asia.

Key Differences

The armadillo is a unique mammal known for its distinctive leathery armor that protects it from predators. In contrast, the pangolin is recognized for its large, protective keratin scales covering its skin.
Native to the Americas, armadillos are predominantly found in regions spanning from the southern United States to South America. Pangolins, on the other hand, are indigenous to parts of Africa and Asia, with eight different species spread across these continents.
While both the armadillo and pangolin have protective coverings, their diets differ. Armadillos are omnivores that primarily consume insects, but they can also eat small vertebrates and plants. Pangolins are specialized in their diet, primarily eating ants and termites using their long, sticky tongues.
Reproductively, the armadillo has a unique trait where certain species give birth to identical quadruplets. Pangolins, in contrast, typically give birth to a single offspring at a time, although some species can have twins.
Both armadillos and pangolins face threats from human activities. Armadillos often face risks from traffic and habitat loss, while pangolins are critically endangered due to poaching for their scales and meat, making them one of the most trafficked mammals globally.

Comparison Chart

Physical Feature

Leathery armor shell
Large, protective keratin scales

Geographic Distribution

Americas (U.S. to South America)
Africa and Asia


Omnivore (primarily insects)
Ants and termites


Some species have identical quads
Usually one offspring, sometimes two

Major Threats

Traffic, habitat loss
Poaching for scales and meat

Armadillo and Pangolin Definitions


Known for certain species giving birth to identical quadruplets.
The mother armadillo nurtured her four identical offspring.


Native to parts of Africa and Asia.
Pangolins are often found in the forests of Southeast Asia.


Faces threats such as traffic and habitat destruction.
The construction project disrupted the armadillo's natural habitat.


Specialized diet of ants and termites.
Using its long tongue, the pangolin expertly extracted termites from the mound.


Native to the Americas, spanning from the U.S. to South America.
We spotted an armadillo during our trip to Texas.


A mammal covered in large, protective keratin scales.
The pangolin's scales are its primary defense against predators.


A mammal known for its leathery armor.
The armadillo curled into a ball when threatened.


Critically endangered due to high levels of poaching.
Conservationists are working hard to protect the pangolin from extinction.


Primarily an insectivore but also consumes small vertebrates and plants.
The armadillo dug up the garden in search of insects.


One of the most trafficked mammals globally.
The illegal trade in pangolin scales has led to a decline in their population.


Any of various omnivorous burrowing mammals of the family Dasypodidae, native to southern North America and Central and South America and characterized by an armorlike covering consisting of jointed bony plates.


Any of several long-tailed, scale-covered mammals of the order Pholidota of tropical Africa and Asia, having a long snout and a sticky tongue for catching and eating ants and termites. Also called scaly anteater.


Any of the burrowing mammals covered with bony, jointed, protective plates, order Cingulata, found in the Americas, especially in South America.


The scaly anteater; any of several long-tailed, scale-covered mammals of the order Pholidota of tropical Africa and Asia, the sole extant genus of which is Manis.


Any edentate animal if the family Dasypidæ, peculiar to America. The body and head are incased in an armor composed of small bony plates. The armadillos burrow in the earth, seldom going abroad except at night. When attacked, they curl up into a ball, presenting the armor on all sides. Their flesh is good food. There are several species, one of which (the peba) is found as far north as Texas. See Peba, Poyou, Tatouay.


Any one of several species of Manis, Pholidotus, and related genera, found in Africa and Asia. They are covered with imbricated scales, and feed upon ants. Called also scaly ant-eater.


Burrowing chiefly nocturnal mammal with body covered with strong horny plates


Toothless mammal of southern Africa and Asia having a body covered with horny scales and a long snout for feeding on ants and termites


What do armadillos primarily eat?

Armadillos primarily consume insects but can also eat small vertebrates and plants.

What covers the body of a pangolin?

Pangolins are covered in large, protective keratin scales.

Where are armadillos native to?

Armadillos are native to the Americas, from the southern U.S. to South America.

In which continents can you find pangolins?

Pangolins are native to parts of Africa and Asia.

What is the main diet of pangolins?

Pangolins primarily eat ants and termites.

How many species of pangolins are there?

There are eight recognized species of pangolins.

How many offspring do pangolins typically have?

Pangolins typically give birth to one offspring at a time, though some species can have twins.

Are both armadillos and pangolins nocturnal?

Yes, both armadillos and pangolins are primarily nocturnal creatures.

Is it legal to trade pangolin products?

The international trade of pangolin products is banned, but illegal trafficking persists.

How many species of armadillos exist?

There are about 21 recognized species of armadillos.

How do armadillos defend themselves from threats?

Armadillos can curl into a ball, using their armor as a shield.

Do armadillos have a unique reproductive trait?

Yes, certain armadillo species give birth to identical quadruplets.

Are pangolins related to anteaters?

While they share similar diets and long tongues, pangolins are not closely related to anteaters.

How do pangolins defend themselves?

Pangolins can roll into a tight ball, using their scales as a shield against predators.

What is the primary protective feature of an armadillo?

The armadillo has a distinctive leathery armor shell.

Are pangolins endangered?

Yes, pangolins are critically endangered due to poaching for their scales and meat.

Can armadillos swim?

Yes, armadillos are good swimmers and can hold their breath for several minutes.

Are pangolins aggressive creatures?

No, pangolins are generally shy and solitary animals.

Do armadillos carry diseases?

Some armadillos, especially in the southern U.S., have been known to carry leprosy.

Why are pangolins trafficked?

Pangolins are trafficked for their scales, which are believed to have medicinal properties in some cultures, and for their meat.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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