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Red Panda

Red Panda faceA Red Panda (Ailurus Fulgens) at Colchester Zoo, UK.Red PandaRed Panda at the Nashville Zoo in TennesseeRed Pandas playing
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Red Panda Facts

Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
Ailurus fulgens
Common Name:
Most widely used name for this species
Red Panda
Other Name(s):
Different names for this animal
Lesser Panda, Fire Fox
The domestic group such as cat or dog
Number Of Species:
The total number of recorded species
The place where something is found
The specific area where the animal lives
High-altitude mountain forest
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Red, Brown, White
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
60cm - 120cm (24in - 47in)
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
3kg - 6.2kg (7lbs - 14lbs)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
38kph (24mph)
What kind of foods the animal eats
The food that the animal gains energy from
Bamboo, Berries, Eggs
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Snow Leopard, Marten, Human
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
Group Behaviour:
How the animal behaves in a group
How long the animal lives for
8 - 12 years
Age Of Sexual Maturity:
When the animal can produce offspring
18 months
Gestation Period:
The time from conception to birth
4 months
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once
Name Of Young:
The name given to the offspring
Age Of Weaning:
The age when the mother stops providing milk for her young
5 months
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Estimated Population Size:
How many of this animal are thought to exist
less than 3,000
Biggest Threat:
The largest danger to this animal
Habitat loss
Most Distinctive Feature:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Rusty coloured thick fur and striped face
Fun Fact:
An exciting thing about this animal
There are less than 3,000 left in the wild!

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Red Panda Location

Map of Red Panda Locations
Map of Asia

Red Panda

Red Panda Classification and Evolution

The Red Panda is a cat-sized species of carnivorous mammal that is found inhabiting the temperate mountain forests on the slopes of the Himalayas. As their name suggests, they are related to the larger and more famous Giant Panda (although the exact closeness of their connection still remains uncertain to science), along with also sharing a number of characteristics with the Raccoon and so Red Pandas are classified in a family of their own. The Red Panda is also known by a number of different names in their native regions including the Lesser Panda, the Red Cat-Bear and as the Fire Fox in Nepal. Like their much larger cousin, the Red Panda relies on bamboo to feed and with rapid deforestation of these unique areas there is less and less for these animals to eat, which has ultimately led to the Red Panda being listed as being an endangered species.

Red Panda Anatomy and Appearance

The Red Panda is about the same size as a large housecat, with a cat-like face and a long, bushy tail. Their rusty coloured thick fur covers their body with the exception of their almost white coloured ears, cheeks, muzzle and spots above their eyes. The Red Panda also has reddish brown stripes that run down either side of their white muzzle, along with alternating light and dark rings on their tails. The Red Panda also has semi-retractable claws to aid climbing and stability amongst the branches and strong, tough jaws which they use to chew on bamboo. Like the Giant Panda, the Red Panda also has an extended wrist bone which acts a bit like a thumb, allowing them to hold onto bamboo whilst they are chewing it. The Red Panda also has dense fur which helps to keep it warm during the cold winter along with having thick and woolly fur on the soles of their feet which not only helps to keep their feet warm but also prevents them from slipping on the wet branches.

Red Panda Distribution and Habitat

The Red Panda is found inhabiting the temperate forests in the Himalayas at altitudes of between 1,800 and 4,000 meters. These high mountain slopes tend to be covered in deciduous hardwood forest with a bamboo under-storey that is crucial to the Red Panda's survival. Their historical range extended through Bhutan, Nepal, India, Myanmar and China where their range overlaps that of the even rarer Giant Panda, but today the Red Panda is extinct from certain areas and population numbers are rapidly declining in others. Due to the fragile ecology of their native, mountain forests and their reliance on eating bamboo, the Red Panda is being pushed into smaller and more isolated pockets of their once wide range with other factors including climate change affecting the lack of abundance of bamboo.

Red Panda Behaviour and Lifestyle

The Red Panda is a nocturnal and generally solitary animal with the exception of males and females coming together to mate during the breeding season. Red Pandas spend the daylight hours sleeping in the branches high in the tree canopy with their long, bushy tail wrapped around them to keep them warm. Although they are known to feed in the trees, they usually come down to the ground after dusk to begin foraging in the safety of the darkness. The Red Panda is a territorial animal that marks its patch with droppings, urine and releasing a musky secretion from its anal glands. They are also known to communicate between one another using short whistles and squeaks. The Red Panda is a strong and agile climber that not only sleeps safely in the branches during the day but also can dart up a trunk if threatened by predators aided by its sharp claws.

Red Panda Reproduction and Life Cycles

Red Pandas usually breed between January and March and after a gestation period that lasts for around four months, the female gives birth to 1 - 5 cubs that are born blind and although they begin to open their eyes within a couple of weeks, the eyes of the Red Panda cubs don't fully open until they are about a month old. Before her cubs are born, the female Red Panda builds a nest in a tree-hole, roots or bamboo thicket which is lined with leaves, moss and other soft plant material. Red Panda cubs may not leave the nest until they are three months old and are strong enough to negotiate the tricky branches. They feed solely on bamboo until they are old enough to stomach other foods and reach their full adult size after about a year. There is however a high mortality rate in young Red Pandas with up to 80% not reaching full adulthood.

Red Panda Diet and Prey

Although the Red Panda belongs to the carnivorous group of mammals, their diet is almost vegetarian as bamboo shoots comprise the majority of their food. However, as the Red Panda is a mammal it has a short digestive system meaning that although bamboo holds little nutrition anyway, they are unable to get the most of their meals. Unlike the Giant Panda though, the Red Panda will also eat a variety of other foods to supplement its diet like acorns, berries and grasses, along with grubs, mice, lizards, chicks and birds' eggs. Along with its excellent sight, smell and hearing the Red Panda also has long, white whiskers on its snout which help it to navigate through the dense vegetation in the darkness of night, when it is most actively foraging for food.

Red Panda Predators and Threats

Due to the fact that Red Pandas inhabit high-altitude mountain forests, they actually have fewer natural predators than they would have living further down the slopes. Snow Leopards and Martens are the only real predators of the Red Panda along with Birds of Prey and small carnivores that prey on the smaller and more vulnerable cubs. The biggest threat to the Red Panda however is people who have affected this species mainly through deforestation of their incredibly unique habitats. Due to Human encroachment, illegal hunting and poaching there have been drastic declines in the Red Panda population numbers with these populations also being pushed into more separate, isolated areas. One of the main concerns with this is that these populations will although be threatened by inbreeding leading to less successful individuals in these areas.

Red Panda Interesting Facts and Features

Living high in the cold mountain climates means that Red Pandas are well adapted to keeping warm with their dense fur and blanket-like tail. However, on really cold days Red Pandas have been known to sunbathe high in the canopy to warm themselves up whilst sleeping during the day. A study conducted in 2001 found that 79% of the Red Pandas reported where found within 100 meters of the nearest body of water, indicating that a good water source may also to be crucial to their already strict habitat requirements. Evidence also suggests that Red Panda reproduction rates have been declining which is believed to be related to the decline in the foods that they eat in order to survive and reproduce successfully.

Red Panda Relationship with Humans

Red Pandas have been admired by people for years but many of the experiences that we have with them are in zoos and animal institutions as these rare and secretive animals can be incredibly hard to spot in the wild. This is however one of the factors in their demise as one Indian village reported that 47 Red Pandas were captured and sold to zoos around the world in just one year. Human interference of their unique and specialised habitats though is believed to be the biggest reason for the decline in Red Panda numbers throughout the Himalayas with deforestation mainly in the form of logging being one of the primary culprits. As with the Giant Panda, the Red Panda relies heavily on high-altitude bamboo thickets to survive and without them it has no-where else to go.

Red Panda Conservation Status and Life Today

Today, the Red Panda is listed on the IUCN Red List as being an animal species that is Endangered in its natural environment and is therefore severely threatened by extinction in the near future. There are estimated to be less than 3,000 Red Pandas remaining in the wild with the majority of these inhabiting small protected zones within national parks. A number of captive breeding programs have also been established in Asia, Europe and North America and appear to be having relative success in their work.

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Red Panda Translations

български език
Червена панда
Panda vermell
Panda červená
Rød panda
Kleiner Panda
Red Panda
Malgranda pando
Ailurus fulgens
Petit panda
פנדה אדום
Crveni panda
Vörös macskamedve
Bahasa Indonesia
Panda Merah
Ailurus fulgens
Kleine panda
Rød panda
Panda mała
Panda roşu
Mačji panda
Küçük panda
Tiếng Việt
Gấu trúc đỏ

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First Published: 5th December 2008, Last Updated: 31st January 2020

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5. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 05 Dec 2008]
6. Red Panda Conservation, Available at: [Accessed at: 05 Dec 2008]
7. Red Panda Diet, Available at: [Accessed at: 05 Dec 2008]
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9. Red Panda Information, Available at: [Accessed at: 05 Dec 2008]
10. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
11. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 05 Dec 2008]