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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? Incredible Red Pandas Facts

Fascinate yourself with these red pandas facts

Is that a raccoon or a weasel? Nope, it is a red panda! Remember the Kung Fu Master, Master Shifu from ‘Kung Fu Panda’? Master Shifu is actually a red panda!

This little animal will undoubtedly win your heart with its innocent eyes, short paws, cinnamon-hued fur, and long striped tail. Red pandas are usually spotted in the Eastern Himalayan regions. The earliest records of this species date back to almost 5 million years ago.

This panda loves munching down bamboo. Almost the size of a cat, these little animals are primarily arboreal. Red pandas are also identified by several other names, such as ‘red cat-bear’, ‘red bear-cat’, ‘lesser panda’, and ‘fire fox’. Too cute for a little one, isn’t it? Now you might be able to identify this animal on the Mozilla Firefox logo!

This species enjoys a good rest in the early hours of the day and is more active after the sun sets. The earliest mention of the red panda was found in a 13th-century scroll of China.

If you enjoy this article, check out the greater bilby and the numbat.

Red Pandas Interesting Facts

What type of animal are Red Pandas?

The red panda is a type of Ailuridae, in fact, it is the only member of this family that is still alive today.

What class of animal do Red Pandas belong to?

The red panda belongs to the Mammalia class, just like their black and white namesakes.

How many Red Pandas are there in the world?

The red panda's population is said to have less than 10,000 individuals surviving, and these numbers are said to be decreasing at a fast rate.

Where do Red Pandas live?

Red pandas are usually spotted in high-altitude mountainous forests.

What is a Red Panda's habitat?

The lesser panda is native to the Himalayan temperate forests. Their habitat covers a region extending from the foothills of the western region of Nepal, all the way to the Qinling Mountains of China towards the east. This range includes parts of India, Bhutan, Tibet, northern Myanmar, as well as China. However, they are primarily found around the Himalayan ranges.

These animals prefer extremely high elevations, preferably between 7200-15700 ft (2200-4785 m). They settle well in these altitudes with temperatures ranging between 50-80 °F (10-27 °C). They find coniferous forests and deciduous forests habitable.

Who do Red Pandas live with?

These reddish-brown pandas have a solitary lifestyle.

How long do Red Pandas live?

The red panda's lifespan ranges between eight and 15 years.

How do they reproduce?

The red pandas reach their maturity at the age of two or three years. These small mammals are polyamorous - both the males and females mate with more than one red panda.

Usually, the breeding season occurs in the months of January to March. The period of gestation lasts for up to five months. During their pregnancies, the female pandas begin building nests in trees or rock crevices using whatever material they can find. These nests are usually constructed with moss, leaves, twigs, grass, and roots.

The red panda babies are born in the months of June and July and are born deaf and blind. The mother gives birth to up to four babies, but usually, the litter size is just two.

The females lick their little ones and recognize each of them by their smells. She spends almost all her time tending to the cubs. Close to three weeks after their birth, the red panda babies begin opening their eyes. At three months, these little cubs are all ready to explore themselves. These little cubs stay with their mothers until the following summer when the next litter is ready to be born.

What is their conservation status?

Unfortunately, the IUCN has listed the red pandas under the Endangered category.

Red Pandas Fun Facts

What do Red Pandas look like?

The red panda has a ringed, bushy tail.

These small mammals have soft, long red/brown/rusty fur on the upper parts of their bodies, while the hue slowly gets darkened to black towards the lower parts. They have a lighter face that resembles that of a raccoon.

Their faces have white badges and the area around their black little nose is a soft cream to beige color. They have a round skull and piercing dark eyes. Their ears stand upright and are of medium size.

They have long bushy tails with rings of darker tint around them. This ringed tail helps the animal in getting a good balance of their bodies. Their bodies have short legs, covered with thick fur, which provides good thermal isolation from cold surfaces at high altitudes.

They also possess sharp claws on their hands which helps them get a good grip on bamboo, tree branches, and other surfaces. Their wrist bones are slightly extended, which gives an image of a ‘false thumb’. They have strong molars which help them bite down the bamboo shoots and leaves efficiently.

The red panda babies are born with greyish fur, and their ears and eyes are tightly covered, which open only after a few days.

How cute are they?

These little red pandas definitely are undeniably cute!

How do they communicate?

Red pandas make small cute noises - squeals, shrieks, and snorts. To mark their territories exclusively for themselves, they spread around their urine and another body secretion which has a musky smell.

In situations of threat or fear, they stand on their hind paws and try to look ferocious and large. They then pull out their sharp claws on their forelimbs, ready for an attack. They also let out a very shrill barking sound.

Newborn red pandas let out a high-pitched sound when in distress. Adults make high-frequency tweet-tweet noises as well as low-frequency shrieks during the mating season.

How big are Red Pandas?

The head-to-body length of these animals is about 20-25 in (51-64 cm). The tail measures about 11-23 in (28-59 cm).

Red pandas are a little bigger than the average domestic cat. Their ringed tails are a little longer than 1 ft.

How fast can Red Pandas move?

The adorable red pandas can move at a speed of 24 mph (40 kph).

How much do Red Pandas weigh?

These little animals actually do not weigh much. The male red pandas weigh between 8.2-14 lb (3.7-6.4 kg). On the other hand, the female red pandas weigh about 6.6-13.2 lb (3-6 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male red pandas are called 'boars', whereas the female pandas are referred to as 'sows'.

What would you call a baby Red Panda?

Baby red pandas are called 'cubs'.

What do they eat?

Primarily, the red panda diet includes bamboo. However, red pandas like small birds, mammals, eggs, berries, and flowers too. They have also been found to be eating maple leaves, mulberry leaves, tree barks, and various fruits. Fish and insects are also a part of their diet. Cellulose is not easily digested in the bodies of these little mammals, hence they survive mainly on bamboo. Mushrooms, grass, acorns, roots, and lichens are also part of their diet.

It has been recorded that they eat about 3.3 lb (1.5kg) of bamboo leaves and about 8.8lb (4 kg) of bamboo shoots every day!

Are they dangerous?

No, the red panda is absolutely not dangerous!

Would they make a good pet?

We think the red panda would make a good pet because they are really timid and adorable, though they are wild animals and should be left alone in their habitat.

Did you know...

Some people believe that there are two classifications among the red pandas. One is the Chinese red panda, which has a deeper red color on their faces. The other classification is the Himalayan pandas, who have white or beige fur on their faces.

The Himalayan red pandas are native to the mountainous regions of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and northern India.

The Chinese red pandas are found mainly in the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China.

Red pandas have a unique trait of sensing smell. They use the underside of their tongues for testing odors. Their tongues have a conical structure that collects the liquid to be smelled and brings it within a gland inside their mouth to smell it.

Possible divergence of the two classifications of the two Red Pandas is said to have taken place almost 220,000 years ago.

The word ‘Ailurus’ comes from ‘ailouros’, an old Greek term that translates to ‘cat’. This name was probably given for its cat-like body.

A possible origin of the term ‘panda’ in its name might have been from the Nepali term ‘Ponya’. Ponya originates from either the Nepali word ‘paja’, meaning ‘claws’, or from ‘paunja’, meaning ‘paws’. Another origin is from the Nepali ‘poonya’, which translates to ‘the bamboo eater’.

Why is the Red Panda endangered?

The red panda populations are unfortunately declining. There have been major threats due to their habitats being destroyed because of deforestation. They also have strong competition in food from other animals. They also face risks from inbreeding.

Red pandas are also poached for their bushy fur. The fur from their tails is highly valuable, which is used in making hats, hides, and other pieces of clothing. In parts of China, hats made with this fur are considered to bring good fortune.

In the olden days, these animals were caught from their natural habitat and sold to reserves and zoos. These animals are also kept as pets in parts of Nepal and India. Unfortunately, this species has a higher death rate when compared to the birth rate, which is usually one or two cubs in a year.

The IUCN Red List categorizes the red panda as an Endangered species. Different countries have taken different measures towards the conservation of red pandas. India has assured a total of 20 protected areas that house the red pandas, as well as have an integral policy for the conservation of this species. Bhutan has also reserved five areas of concern for these animals. Myanmar and Nepal have also protected 26 and seven such areas, respectively. China, which accounts for about 42% of the red panda’s habitat, has protected 35 areas for the red panda.

The citizens of Ilam District, Nepal, as well as of Arunachal Pradesh, India, manage the forest areas around their regions and look after the red panda population.

Multiple countries around the world have also registered for captive-breeding initiatives of the red pandas.

What are Red Pandas related to?

Pandas? Raccoons? Skunks? You must be wondering what this animal is related to.

This species is the only surviving member in the world from the family Ailuridae. Back in the year 1825, this little animal was actually classified as a part of the raccoon clan. Raccoons and red pandas have many similarities between them. They have similar shapes of their skulls, teeth structure, and almost the same striped pattern on their tails. Recent technological developments have made better research possible, which has led to these red pandas being placed in a family of their own. Evolutionary and molecular phylogenetic researches have shown that this animal is actually an ancient species under the Carnivora order and hence might share a slight relation with the group covering other small animals such as weasels, otters, raccoons as well as skunks.

With ‘panda’ in their names, are they really related to the giant pandas? No is the answer, there is actually no connection today between red pandas and the giant pandas! The red panda first got the title of ‘panda’ back in 1825, and it was much later that the black and white giant pandas got their names. This makes the red pandas the official true pandas! However, it is said that both these panda species actually shared the same ancestor, though this ancestor lived a few million years ago.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the Cuban solenodon and the mountain zebra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our red panda habitat coloring pages.  

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