Pangolin tattoo meaning and symbolism

The pangolin tattoo is a great choice for people who would like to make their body art stand out. This animal is rather unique and not very common in the world of tattoos, which makes it a special treat both for those who choose to get one and for those who get to view such a tattoo on somebody else’s skin. If you are intrigued and would like to learn more about the pangolin tattoo, read our article – we guarantee that you will find something very interesting.

Pangolin arm tattoo
Pangolin arm tattoo @maiko.only


First, let’s briefly present what the pangolin is. It is a kind of mammal that belongs to the Manidae family, or more commonly known as “the scaly anteater”.

The species are divided into four groups – African pangolins, ground pangolins (which live in Asia), tree pangolins (Asia and Africa) and long-tailed pangolins (which live only in the Congo Basin).

The one we are going to focus on is the Indian or the Sunda pangolin, more commonly known as the “Malayan” or “Asian” pangolin.

It is the most common type of pangolin and can be found in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. It lives both in forests and on open land.


The pangolin tattoo has a very distinctive look because this animal has a set of special features that make it unique among other similar species. As we mentioned before, the pangolin is covered by scales, which makes it look a bit like a pine cone or an artichoke from above.

The Malayan pangolin’s scales are light brown in color with darker shades on the edges. They have small white spots too, but they can’t be seen if you don’t turn your animal upside down.

Additionally, the scales have sharp edges that resemble thorns. They are connected to the skin by small muscles, which makes it possible for this covering to be moved just like regular hairs on your head. The “paws” of the pangolin are covered with these scales too – it’s the only mammal in the world to have them!


Additionally, the pangolin’s nose is very interesting too – it’s long and split in two, with each of the nostrils being independent. The sense of smell plays an incredibly important role for this animal because it uses it to find its food. This mammal has poor vision but it can easily catch even the slightest scent of its prey due to its exceptional smelling skills.


Now, let’s get down to the tattoo itself. As we have already mentioned, the pangolin scales are very distinct and that is why they make one of the most popular designs for this type of body art. However, you don’t have to limit yourself only to the pangolin scales – you can also use this animal’s shape and pose in your tattoo.


One of the most interesting design choices is drawing the pangolin while it is climbing or hanging from a tree branch. You can give it a serious look, show its claws or even mock it up as a humorous image with a funny face.

At the same time, this animal is very interesting from a “supernatural” perspective – you can draw the pangolin protecting itself by turning its scales into an impenetrable bristly coat or you can make its claws look like two swords that would defeat any enemy.

It’s also worth mentioning that this animal has very large claws in proportion to its body, which is why they look particularly impressive when drawn on paper.


The pangolin tattoo can have quite a few meanings depending on the way you draw it and what design choices you make. This tattoo can be drawn in an abstract manner, commemorating your love for this animal or it can also have a deeper meaning – relating to your personal story or experiences.


The pangolin has become one of the most endangered species in our world so it’s easy to see why its tattoo can have a special meaning for you. Perhaps you are one of the people who are trying to do something about protecting this animal’s habitat or stopping poaching – if that is the case, then the pangolin tattoo will be an excellent way to honor your dedication.

Pangolin ancle tattoo
Pangolin ancle tattoo @nature_obscure


The pangolin tattoo can also be used to symbolize the natural world. We all know that this animal is an integral part of its ecosystem and it plays a unique role in its habitat – just like any other creature out there. Therefore, you can use this tattoo as a way to show how much you care about nature and the creatures that live on our planet.


Perhaps the most popular meaning that a pangolin tattoo has is a reference to one’s affection or caring nature. This animal looks so much like a cute pine cone with tiny scales and claws, especially when it curls up inside its own armor – this can remind you of your loved ones and how much you care about them.


This animal is not very easy to find, especially if you are aiming for its image with open eyes – some people have started to use the pangolin claws instead, which are still quite popular.


If you want to get a pangolin tattoo then it’s crucial for you to choose your artist carefully – make sure that they have experience when it comes to this type of tattoos.

All in all, this is a great tattoo option for both men and women. However, if you are thinking about getting a real Malayan pangolin tattooed on your body then make sure that the artist you choose is experienced with this particular type of design because there are some important details to keep in mind.

For example, the scales on the animal’s head are much bigger than those on its back and you should definitely make them bigger if you want your tattoo to look like a pangolin rather than like an artichoke. However, even if you don’t pay attention to this detail your tattoo will look great.


As we have already mentioned, the pangolin scales are very sharp. During the first days of having them they may be uncomfortable – you can easily damage or hurt yourself if you don’t handle this animal with special care. That is why you have to be patient and wait until your tattoo heals.

If you want to reduce the risk of making a mistake, you can also cover your design with a bandage or a piece of transparent adhesive tape, but only if the artist gives you permission.


If you’re thinking about getting a pangolin tattoo then we recommend that you read about this animal first. This way, you will know the basic information and you won’t be surprised by anything if your artist decides to share some additional details with you during the process of making the design.

Pangolins live in trees and can also swim well. These unusual creatures are nocturnal and herbivores.

They feed on ants, termites and insect larvae, but they don’t have any teeth – they struggle with these animals using their claws or tongues! The tongue is one of the most fascinating parts of this animal’s body. It can be up to 45 cm long which makes it perfect for catching insects!