Red pandas live in the coniferous and deciduous forests of the Himalayan mountains in Nepal, India, China, and Burma. Their diet mainly includes bamboo leaves, berries, bird eggs, seeds, fruit, and blossoms. They live to be about 10 years old in the wild and around 13 years old in captivity.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Carnivora
Suborder - Caniformia
Family - Ailuridae
Genus - Ailurus
Species - A. fulgens
Common Names - Red Panda, Lesser Panda, Red Cat-bear
As their name suggests, red pandas have reddish fur over much of their body, although they have black fur on their underside and a mostly white face. Their ringed tails are long and furry, which helps them stay warm. Red pandas are much smaller than giant pandas, and are only distantly related. Adults weigh between 12 to 20 pounds and measure between 32 to 46 inches in length from head to tail.
Red pandas breed during early winter. After an average gestation period of 134 days, females produce between one to four cubs. The cubs remain with their mother for about one year before reaching reproductive maturity at around 18 months of age. The males do not assist with caring for their offspring, while the females and their young form a strong bond.
Red pandas spend a lot of time in trees, except when they forage on the ground for food. They’re mostly active at night, as well as at dusk and dawn. They communicate by using visual displays, such as arching their tail or shaking their head. They’re very flexible and can easily move from branch to branch. They also perform behaviors such as rubbing their back on trees and using their paws to wash their face.
Red pandas are still found in much of their historical range, although their populations are decreasing overall due to deforestation. Local populations have disappeared from certain parts of China, including Gansu and Qinghai provinces.
Red pandas are currently listed as Vulnerable because their numbers are decreasing. They were listed as Endangered in 1996, but a 2008 assessment found that the populations were declining at lower rates of around 30 percent. The main threat to red pandas is habitat loss from deforestation, although they are also at risk from poaching. The species is protected by legislation, but these laws are not consistently enforced in some areas.