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The pangolin's large scales are actually made of keratin, the same material of which fingernails, rhino horns and bird talons are made. The scales, which make up around 20% of the pangolin's weight, are very hard. When threatened by predators, pangolins roll themselves into a tight ball and the scales act like impenetrable armour. Pangolins can also lash out with their tails, using the scales as sharp-edged weapons which can easily cut through the predator's skin.

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