10 Incredible Red Panda Facts

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: August 15, 2023
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The Red Panda is a mammal, mostly found in the Eastern Himalayas and the southwestern part of China. It has unique body features like an overwhelmingly white muzzle, white-lined ears, and a compact reddish-brown fur. 

We have taken the liberty of putting together a list of some incredible facts about this beautiful species. Shall we?

Discover 10 fascinating facts about the adorable red panda.

1. Red Pandas Are Not Closely Tied To Giant Pandas

red panda laying on tree with tongue out

Red pandas are not closely related to giant pandas.

©dean bertoncelj/Shutterstock.com

When you mention a panda, the image that comes to most people’s minds is that of a giant panda. However, contrary to what you may have thought, red pandas are not closely related to giant pandas. 

Scientific discoveries have placed them in a family of their own (Ailuridae), owing to their immense uniqueness. These discoveries further revealed that red pandas have a closer relationship with weasels and skunks than they have with giant pandas. 

2. The Diet Of Red Pandas Primarily Comprises Bamboo

90% of a red


‘s meal is made up of bamboo.

©Millie Bond – Copyright A-Z Animals

Bamboo makes up to 90% of a red panda’s meal. And when we say bamboo, we mean shoots and leaf tips, not the bark or branches. Interestingly, their digestive system struggles with processing the cellulose components of the plant, but they like what they like. 

They also feed on mushrooms, flowers, birds, eggs, etc. 

3. Red Pandas’ Digestive System Is Better Suited For A Carnivorous Diet

Though red pandas generally eat bamboo, they have carnivorous digestive systems designed to process protein and fat better than carbohydrates and fibers.

©Brunswyk / Creative Commons

Remember what we said earlier about the red panda’s digestive system struggling to process bamboo plant cells? Well, that’s because they have a carnivorous digestive system that can process fats and protein better than the fibers and carbohydrates found in their preferred meals. 

That explains why thy also prey on birds, grubs, insects, and even small mammals. 

4. There Are Two Red Panda Species


pandas have more white around their faces than Chinese ones.

©schani / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

Quite recently, scientists separated red pandas into two species, nullifying the earlier belief that they are a species with two subspecies. The two species are the Chinese Red Panda and the Himalayan Red Panda. Considering red pandas are native to the Himalayas and Southwestern China as we mentioned before, it doesn’t feel so far-fetched. 

The Chinese Red Panda is the larger species and it has darker fur, while the Himalayan Red Panda often has more white on its face. 

5. Adult Red Pandas Only Socialize During Mating Seasons

Red pandas are not very sociable but do socialize during the mating season in early winter.

©Colegota / Creative Commons

If you were to randomly sight a red panda, it would most likely be by itself, all alone. The only time they socialize is during the mating season in early winter. The female red pandas often undergo a gestation period of up to 145 days during which they collect homely items like grass, sticks, and leaves to build a nest, which is usually in hollow trees or rock fissures. 

6. Red Pandas Have Pseudo-Thumbs

Red Animals - Red Panda

One characteristic of the red panda is its pseudo-thumbs, which help it grasp bamboo and other tree branches.

©iStock.com/AB Photography

Red pandas may appear to have thumbs but they actually do not. What they have is an extended wrist bone and while it can be a thumb, it cannot be factually called an appendage in a strict sense. 

These pseudo-thumbs are another thing they have in common with giant pandas besides a predominantly bamboo diet. And, wouldn’t you know? The thumbs help with their grasp of bamboo and other tree branches. A study revealed the thumb is an inheritance from an ancient member of the red panda family. 

7. Red Pandas Are One Of The Few Animals That Can Climb Headlong

Red Pandas are one of the few animals that can climb down a tree head-first.

©Aconcagua / Creative Commons

The truth is, there aren’t many animals that can actually climb a tree head-first. The red panda is one of the few animals that can do that thanks to its very flexible ankles. While most other animals would crawl down with their hindlimbs, red pandas do it head-first with relative ease. 

They also have sharp claws with some level of retractability that enables them to grasp slippery branches. Not to mention their ringed and bushy tails which serve as a ballast to help them retain balance. 

8. Red Pandas Can Survive Extreme Cold

Cutest Animals: Red Panda

Red pandas will stand on their hind legs as a defense mechanism.


When you closely study a red panda, it’s almost like they have natural, in-built duvets covering every part of their bodies. Every part of their body is duly covered and that includes the tail which is covered in a wooly undercoat with incredible density and long hairs. 

Their nose is the only part that seems exposed and there’s a layer of fur beneath their feet. As expected, the temperature becomes a lot warmer in the summer and when it does, red pandas mount tree branches to enjoy some cool. 

9. Red Pandas Are Endangered Species At Risk Of Extinction

The red panda population has declined by about 50% over several generations, now numbering less than 10,000.

©Millie Bond – Copyright A-Z Animals

According to the International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN), red pandas are believed to be endangered owing to a number of unfortunate factors. Their report reveals that the red panda population has declined by up to 50% over the last three generations. Currently, the population of red pandas stand at less than 10,000 individuals. 

Sadly, experts project further decline due to the low survival rate of red pandas in some regions as well as the problem of fragmentation. Also, some Himalayan bamboos, confirmed to make up most of their diets, are affected by deforestation, fire, overgrazing, and general environmental deterioration. 

10. Conservationists Have Touted Nepal As A Possible Conservation Region For Red Pandas

flag of Nepal

Conservationists have found that around 14% of Nepal would provide a perfect habitat for red pandas.


When we have endangered species, there are often well-intentioned, coordinated, and sponsored efforts by conservationists to save the species. In the case of red pandas, conservationists have found that about 14% of the Nepal region makes a perfect habitat for red pandas. 

However, the problem is not all solved because 75% of these possible habitats are unprotected which would still leave them at risk. 

There are several organizations putting in painstaking efforts to save the red panda species and we urge that they be supported by way of funding, volunteering, and ideas.

Also, it is of utmost importance that countries around the world, especially those with a high red panda population, make solid conservation moves. This includes decrying habitat destruction and fragmentation and discouraging deforestation in parts with huge concentrations of red panda habitats. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Abeselom Zerit/Shutterstock.com

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