Pangolins are solitary except when mating or when females are rearing their young. Although they are not territorial, males don’t seem to like each other much. If they meet, they will fight until one surrenders and leaves.
Ground pangolins communicate through scents, using urine to signal their presence.
Ground pangolins typically walk on their two back legs, leaving their relatively tiny front feet free for foraging. Their long, heavy tail, by counterbalancing the weight of the rest of the body, helps keep them in a horizontal position when walking. It also provides support when climbing over logs. Covered with sharp scales, the tail can also be used as a weapon to slash enemies. Pangolins are active for only short periods—times when they can catch plenty of food. Otherwise, they burrow underground or in dense vegetation and wallow in mud or manure. They will even create a dirtbath by mixing soil with their own urine. When scared or stressed, they curl up into a tight, armored ball that is almost impossible for most predators to pry open. Pangolins have very poor eyesight and have frequently been observed running into things.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists pangolins as a species of lower risk, though not much is known about their abundance and population trends. They do live in a number of protected areas, and in some places they are protected by laws, but their body parts—especially their scales—are still used in traditional medicine.