Red Panda - Ailurus Fulgens
Red Panda - Ailurus Fulgens

About the red panda.

Despite its name, the red panda is not related to the giant panda. They are actually genetically closer to raccoons, skunks and mustelids.


They are members of the order Carnivora, but, along with some other species (like the binturong or the giant panda), they don’t usually eat other animals. Their diet consists mainly of bamboo (which brings them closer to their homonymous giant panda).


They have a big and bushy tail. They cover their own bodies with it to keep themselves warm when the temperatures are low.


Their thumbs are separated from the rest of the fingers and adapted for grasping bamboo. At first, this characteristic made scientists believe that they were related to the giant panda. Today we know that both species evolved the same way through adaption to the environment.


Despite the reddish color of their fur, that could be attention-grabbing out of context, red pandas can go completely unnoticed among trees by their predators. These trees are usually covered with reddish brown moss, which helps them hide.


It was given its name before the giant panda. It probably comes from the Nepalese word “ponya”, which means “bamboo or plant eating animal”. So it can be said that the real panda is the red panda, and that the giant panda is a bear.


Few animals have the ability to distinguish artificial sweet flavors: only Old World monkeys, apes, human beings and the red panda.


This animal’s feet are unique: They have semi-retractable claws that work similarly to cat’s. This helps them climb trees, but unlike cats, when they want to leave them, they can rotate their back legs to climb them down head first. They also have thicker skin on their soles, which protects them from the cold.


They have the ability to make a wide range of sounds for communication purposes. They emit bird-like high-pitched sounds, but if they feel threatened, they can emit low-pitch sounds, like bears.


There are two subspecies: the Styan’s red panda (south of China and north of Myanmar) and Fulgen’s red panda (Nepal, Assam, Sikkim and Bhutan). The main differences are in the lighter/darker color of their fur and the size of skull and teeth.


They are solitary animals that only gather during the mating season. Females usually have 1-4 babies in Spring/Summer that stay 90 days in their den under her care.


These animals are endangered due to habitat loss and the endogamy that follows. Despite the government’s efforts to protect them, their population in the wild keeps decreasing.

A beautiful red panda. By sanyanwuji | Shutterstock.com
A beautiful red panda. By sanyanwuji | Shutterstock.com
COMMON NAMECONSERVATION STATUS
Red pandaEndangered
SCIENTIFIC NAMESIZE
Ailurus fulgens50 – 64 cm (20 – 25 in) + 28 – 59 cm (11 – 23 in) of tail
FAMILYWEIGHT
Ailuridae3 – 6.2 kg (86.6 – 13.7 lb)
ORDERLIFESPAN
Carnivora12 – 14 years
CLASSGESTATION PERIOD
Mammalia112 a 158 days
POPULATIONDIET
Less than 10,000 individuals in the wild.They feed mainly on bamboo. They complete their diet with berries, fruit, mushrooms, roots, lichen and occasionally little animals.
HABITATRANGE
Bamboo, conifer forests and old trees located in mountain areas.Southeast of Asia, the Himalayas (south of Tibet), Bhutan, India and Sichuan in China.
Lazy red panda in tree. By Hung Chung Chih | Shutterstock.com
Lazy red panda in tree. By Hung Chung Chih | Shutterstock.com

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