Pangolins live predominantly on an insectivorous diet of ants and termites, which they may supplement with various other invertebrates including bee larvae, flies, worms, earthworms, and crickets. This specialist diet makes them extremely difficult to maintain in captivity—they often reject unfamiliar insect species or become ill when fed foreign food. Wild pangolins locate insect nests using a well developed sense of smell. Voraciously digging ants and termites from mounds, stumps, and fallen logs with their claws, they use their extremely long sticky tongues to capture and eat them.
This species is found in primary and secondary forest, though areas with primary forest support more pangolins, because they contain older, larger trees with hollows suitable for sleeping and for use as den sites. They have also been observed in open savannah country, and areas vegetated with thick bush such as gardens and plantations. As with other pangolins species, the Sunda Pangolin is primarily nocturnal, solitary and a specialised feeder on ants and termites, however it is a more arboreal species than other Pangolin species and often climbs to access ant’s nests.
Sunda Pangolins are thought to breed in the autumn, and give birth in their winter burrow, usually giving birth to only one young at a time, after a gestation period of 130-178 days. Newborn pangolins have soft scales, which harden after birth, and can weigh from 100 to 500 grams. The mothers care for their young for approximately 3-4 months and they will become reproductively mature towards the end of their first year. Males have been observed engaging in violent sparing with other males in competition for females.
Sunda Pangolins are secretive, elusive and primarily nocturnal. They are sometimes found in pairs, but are mainly solitary and timid. They move slowly on all four feet unless threatened, when they can move swiftly on hind feet alone with the aid of their prehensile tail. The tail is also useful for balance when climbing trees. They have been observed swimming and are thought to travel an average of 0.7-1.8 km/day. They are strong diggers and will make burrows lined with vegetation for insulation near termite mounds and ant nests.