The Chinese pangolin lives a solitary life and (5), although it is highly terrestrial, it is also fully capable of climbing trees and is a good swimmer (1). Often moving slowly on all fours, the pangolin walks on its knuckles (4), with its front claws curled under, resulting in some very distinctive footprints (8). Occasionally, it may rise onto its hindlegs to walk, with the body more upright and the forelegs held in the air; this is also the position it adopts when attacking a termite nest (7).
With its long claws the pangolin excavates a burrow in which it sleeps during the day, emerging early in the evening to search for food (6). It has poor vision, but instead of sight, the Chinese pangolin relies on smell to find prey (6). Using its strong fore-claws to break open a termite or ant nest, the Chinese pangolin then uses its long, sticky tongue to scoop the insects into its mouth (2). While feeding, the pangolin can close its nostrils and ears to protect against swarming, biting insects, while thick lids shield the eyes (7). As it lacks teeth, its meal is ground down in the muscular stomach instead (4).
In late summer or early autumn, male Chinese pangolins may be observed fighting over the opportunity to mate with a female, resulting in the victor and female mating over a period of three to five days (4). The Chinese pangolin spends the winter in deep burrows, situated next to a termite nest to provide a food source. During this period, females give birth to a single offspring, which is reared through winter in the burrow, before emerging with the mother in spring (4) (6). Once outside the burrow, the young pangolin is carried around on its mother’s tail (6). The Chinese pangolin is thought to reach sexual maturity at around one year of age (4).