Facts about red panda
The lesser panda
The red panda, despite its name, does not belong to the same family as the giant panda. Although both species share similarities, such as cravings for bamboo leaves, the red panda is related to weasels, raccoons, and otters. Due to habitat loss and excessive poaching for their unique fur, their numbers dwindle, and measures for the conservation of the species are taken around the world.
1It is the only species in the genus Ailurus in the family Ailuridae.
2There are two subspecies of the red panda–Himalayan red panda, and Chinese red panda.
The two subspecies separated some 250,000 years ago. Scientists suggest that they should be treated as separate species.
3Red pandas are native to southwestern Asia and the eastern Himalayas.
4The red panda was first described in 1825.
It was done by a French zoologist, Frederic Cuvier.
5Red pandas have many alternative names.
They are called the lesser panda, firefox, and the red bear-cat.
6Despite its name, it is not related to the giant panda.
A giant panda is a species of bear. The name panda was given to the red panda first, as the giant panda was described approximately 50 years later.
7The name “panda” refers to the bamboo diet.
It translates from Nepalese “nigalya ponya,” which means “bamboo eater.”
8It is closely related to weasels, skunks, otters, and raccoons.
9The red panda is a relatively small mammal, measuring between 51 and 64 centimeters.
The Chinese red panda weighs between 4 and 15 kg, while the Himalayan red panda is smaller, and weighs between 3 and 9.5 kg.
10Its tail can measure from 30 to 51 centimeters.
It helps them navigate tree branches, and is used as a blanket during sleep.
11They are rusty-colored, which helps them camouflage better.
Trees in their natural habitat are typically covered with reddish moss and lichens. Their underbelly is black, which adds to their camouflage when hidden on tree tops.
12On average, they live for up to 15 years.
13Although their diet consists of both meat and herbs, they are classified as carnivores.
It refers to their biological order since their diet is mostly vegetarian. The majority of the diet consists of bamboo leaves, but it also feeds on flowers, fruits, insects, eggs, birds, and small mammals.
14Red pandas eat 20-30 percent of their body weight in bamboo daily.
It is because of the digestive system of carnivores.
15The red panda has a pseudo-thumb.
At first, it evolved to aid with tree climbing but later adapted to support their bamboo diet.
16They can climb down trees head-first.
17Red pandas are both nocturnal and crepuscular.
They spend the majority of the day sleeping–they can sleep for up to 17 hours.
18They are mostly solitary and use two techniques to mark their territory and alert females to their presence.
They primarily use scent glands located at the base of their tails and on their feet, but can also leave piles of excrement that attract females during mating season.
19Red pandas reach sexual maturity at 18 months of age.
20Female red pandas are fertile for two days each year.
It is both common among red pandas and giant pandas.
21Red pandas can undergo embryonic diapause.
The gestation can last for 93 days but can be delayed up to 156 days until the conditions are suitable enough to give birth to cubs.
22Female red pandas can give birth to up to four cubs per litter.
Usually, a pair is born. Cubs are born blind but fully furred. They leave the nest after three to four months and are fully independent after a year.
23When a red panda feels threatened or provoked, it stands on its hind legs to appear larger.
24The internet browser “Firefox” is named after the red panda.
It is also in the browser’s logo.
25The third Saturday of September is celebrated as International Red Panda Day.
Ever since 2010, it aims to raise awareness and support for their conservation.
26They are listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
They suffer from habitat loss, climate change, and excessive poaching. Currently, their population in the wild is estimated at no more than 10,000 individuals.