(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The red panda, scientific name Ailurus fulgens is a carnivoran native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List as a result of the wild inhabitants is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature people and continues to say no resulting from habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding melancholy. Despite its name, it isn’t intently associated with the enormous panda.

Red Panda profile

A red panda’s lifespan ranges between eight and 10 years, however people have been identified to achieve 15 years.

The red panda has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait resulting from its shorter front legs; it’s roughly the size of a home cat, although with an extended body.

It is arboreal and feeds primarily on bamboo, but in addition eats eggs, birds, and bugs. It is a solitary animal, primarily energetic from nightfall to daybreak, and is essentially sedentary through the day. It can also be referred to as the lesser panda, the red bear-cat, and the red cat-bear.

Red pandas dwell in high-altitude, temperate forests with bamboo understories within the Himalayas and different high mountains. They range from northern Myanmar (Burma) to the west Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces of China.

They are additionally present in appropriate habitats in Nepal, India, and Tibet. Ailurus fulgens fulgens lives predominantly in Nepal and will also be present in India and Bhutan. Ailurus fulgens styani (or Ailurus fulgens refulgens) is primarily present in China and Myanmar.

Red pandas might be simply recognized by their distinctive ruddy coat color, which acts like camouflage inside the cover of fir bushes the place branches are lined with clumps of reddish-brown moss and white lichens.

They have giant, round heads and quick snouts with huge, pointed ears. Their faces are white with reddish-brown “tear” marks that reach from the eyes to the nook of the mouth. These markings may have advanced to assist hold the solar out of their eyes. Their tails are marked with alternating red and buff rings.

Red pandas have a comfortable, dense woolly undercoat lined by long, coarse guard hairs. Long, bushy tails assist these arboreal animals to keep stability and shield them from harsh chilly and winds. Dense fur utterly covers their feet which have 5, broadly separated toes and semi-retractable claws.

Red pandas scent-mark territories utilizing anal glands and urine, in addition to scent glands situated between their footpads. These scent glands on the underside of red pandas’ feet exude a colorless liquid that’s odorless to people.

The red panda exams odors utilizing the underside of its tongue, which has a cone-like construction for accumulating liquid and bringing it near a gland inside its mouth. It is the one carnivore with this adaptation.

Red pandas are expert climbers, utilizing bushes for shelter, to flee predators, and to sunbathe within the winter. Their ankles are extraordinarily versatile, and the fibula and tibia are hooked up in such an approach as to permit the fibula to rotate about its axis. These options make it possible for red pandas to adeptly climb headfirst down tree trunks.

In distinction with different carnivores their size, red pandas have extraordinarily sturdy dentition. They even have an easy carnivore abdomen, regardless of their predominantly leaf-based diet. Red pandas share the enormous panda’s pseudo-thumb, a modified wrist bone used to understand bamboo when feeding.

Red pandas are the one dwelling member of the Ailuridae family, and their taxonomic place has long been a subject of scientific debate.

They had been first described as members of the raccoon family (Procyonidae) — a controversial classification — in 1825, due to ecological traits and morphological similarities of the top, dentition, and ringed tail. Later, resulting from some agreements in DNA, they had been assigned to the bear family (Ursidae).

Most latest genetic analysis, nevertheless, locations red pandas in their very own, unbiased family: Ailuridae. Molecular phylogenetic research presents that red pandas are an ancient species within the order Carnivora (superfamily Musteloidea) and are most likely most intently associated with the group that features skunks, raccoons, and weasels.

While initially considered two subspecies, new genetic research recommends that there are two distinct species of the red panda: Ailurus fulgens fulgens and Ailurus fulgens styani (also called Ailurus fulgens refulgens). The latter tend to be bigger and deeper red in color than in the past.

The red panda is the one dwelling member of the genus Ailurus and the family Ailuridae. It has beforehand been positioned within the raccoon and bear families, however, the outcomes of phylogenetic analysis present sturdy assistance for its taxonomic classification in its personal family, Ailuridae, which is a part of the superfamily Musteloidea, together with the weasel, raccoon, and skunk households.

Traditionally it was thought to encompass two subspecies. However, outcomes of genetic analysis point out that there are most likely two distinct red panda species, the Chinese red panda and the Himalayan red panda, which genetically diverged 0.22 million years ago.

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Geographic Range

Red pandas are discovered all through the Himalayan mountains between 2,200 and 4,800 meters in elevation in northern Burma, Nepal, the Sikkim area of India, and the districts of western Sichuan and Yunnan in China.

Their geographic range is bounded within the north by the Namlung Valley within the Mugo District and the Lake Rara area of northern Nepal, within the south by the Liakiang Range of western Yunnan, and the northern and eastern boundary is the higher Min Valley of western Sichuan.

Red Panda Physical traits

The red panda has long, comfortable, reddish-brown fur on the higher elements, blackish fur on the decrease elements, and a light face with tear markings and white badges much like these of a raccoon, however, every particular person can have distinctive markings.

Its skull is roundish with medium-sized upright ears, its nostril is black, and its eyes are blackish. Its teeth are sturdy. Its long, bushy tail with six alternating transverse ochre rings present stability and glorious camouflage in a habitat with moss- and lichen-covered bushes.

The legs are black and quick with thick fur on the soles of the paws. This fur serves as thermal insulation on snow-covered or icy surfaces and conceals scent glands, that are additionally present on the anus.

The head and body size of a red panda measures 50 to 64 cm (20 to 25 in), and its tail is 28 to 59 cm (11 to 23 in) long. Males weigh 3.7 to 6.2 kg (8.2 to 13.7 lb) and females Three to 6.0 kg (6.6 to 13.2 lb).

The red panda is specialized as a bamboo feeder with sturdy, curved, and sharp semi-retractile claws standing inward for greedy slim tree branches, leaves, and fruit.

Like the enormous panda, it has a “false thumb”, which is an extension of the wrist bone. When descending a tree head-first, the red panda rotates its ankle to control its descent, one of many few climbing species to take action.

Red Panda Traits

Red pandas are roughly 560 to 625 mm long, with comparatively long, furry tails, from 370 to 472 mm long. The tails are marked with about 12 alternating red and buff rings and are usually not prehensile.

The Red Panda head is round; the podium is shortened; and the ears are giant, erect, and pointed. Long, coarse guard hairs cover the body, and the undercoat is comfortable, dense, and woolly.

The Red Panda body is darker in eastern specimens. The face is predominantly white with reddish-brown “tear” marks below the eyes. The fur on the higher facet of its body is reddish-brown, whereas ventrally it’s shiny black.

The Red Panda legs are black and the soles of its feet are lined with dense, white hair. There isn’t any sexual dimorphism in color or size between men and women. Front legs are angled inward, resulting in its waddling stroll. The feet are plantigrade.

The red panda has a sturdy skull with a poorly developed zygomatic arch, sagittal crest, and postorbital process.

The palatines lengthen past the level of probably the most posterior molar, the mesopterygoid fossa is constricted anteriorly, and the auditory bullae are small.

The published glenoid process is giant and anteriorly recurved, and an alisphenoid canal is present.

The mandible is powerful however comparatively quick, and the mandibular symphysis is constricted. The coronoid process is strongly hooked posteriorly, and the mandibular condyles are giant.

Premolar one and molar one and two are wider than they’re long and have accent cusplets. Each higher premolar has more than one cusp, and premolar three has a nicely developed paracone and hypocone.

Red Panda Distribution and habitat

The red panda is endemic to the temperate forests of the Himalayas and ranges from the foothills of western Nepal to China within the east. It’s easternmost restrict is the Qinling Mountains of the Shaanxi Province in China.

Its range contains southern Tibet, Sikkim, and Assam in India, Bhutan, the northern mountains of Burma, and in south-western China, within the Hengduan Mountains of Sichuan and the Gongshan Mountains in Yunnan.

It may additionally dwell in south-west Tibet and northern Arunachal Pradesh, however, this has not been documented. Locations with the very best density of red pandas embrace a space within the Himalayas that has been proposed as having been a refuge for a wide range of endemic species within the Pleistocene.

The distribution range of the red panda ought to be thought-about disjunct, moderately than steady. A disjunct inhabitant inhabits the Meghalaya Plateau of north-eastern India.

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The red panda lives between 2,200 and 4,800 m (7,200 and 15,700 ft) altitude, inhabiting areas of reasonable temperature between 10 and 25 °C (50 and 77 °F) with little annual change. It prefers mountainous combined deciduous and conifer forests, particularly with old bushes and dense understories of bamboo.

During a survey within the 1970s, indicators of red pandas had been present in Nepal’s Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. Their presence was confirmed in spring 2007 when 4 red pandas had been sighted at elevations starting from 3,220 to 3,610 m (10,560 to 11,840 ft).

Its westernmost distribution is in Rara National Park. In 2018, red pandas had been sighted at elevations of three,150–3,650 m (10,330–11,980 ft) in Nepal’s Lamjung District.

The red panda inhabitants in Sichuan Province are bigger and more stable than the Yunnan inhabitants, suggesting a southward enlargement from Sichuan into Yunnan within the Holocene. The red panda has grown to be extirpated from the Chinese provinces of Guizhou, Gansu, Shaanxi, and Qinghai.

Red Panda Behavior

The red panda is territorial; it’s solitary besides throughout mating season. It is mostly quiet aside from some twittering, tweeting, and whistling communication sounds.

It has been reported to be nocturnal and crepuscular, sleeping on tree branches or in tree hollows throughout the day and growing its exercise within the late afternoon and early night hours.

It sleeps stretched out on a branch with legs dangling when it’s scorching and curled up with its tail over the face when it’s chilly. It could be very heat-sensitive, with an optimum “well-being” temperature between 17 and 25 °C (63 and 77 °F).

Shortly after waking, red pandas clean their fur considerably like a cat would, licking their front paws after which rubbing their backs, torsos, and sides. They additionally rub their backs and bellies alongside the perimeters of bushes or rocks.

Then they patrol their territories, marking with urine and a weak musk-smelling secretion from their anal glands. They seek meals operating alongside the ground or by means of the bushes. Red pandas could use their forepaws alternately to convey meals to their mouths or place meals instantly into their mouths.

Red panda’s exercise modifications all through the year based mostly on the temperature, feeding regimes, and the presence of younger.

The usually solitary A. fulgens are most energetic at nightfall, daybreak, and through the night. Movement on the ground is finished by a sluggish, cross-extension gait, and quicker bounding or trotting.

Ailurus fulgens is arboreal, sleeping in nests in evergreens. They descend bushes headfirst and display their flexibility as they transfer from branch to branch. The tail is used for stability when in bushes, whereas on the ground it’s carried straight and horizontally.

Red pandas interact in a number of leisure behaviors after awakening or consumption. They lick the entire body and limbs, wash their face with a paw, and stretch or rub their back and stomach towards a stationary object comparable to a tree or rock.

Predators

Predators of the red panda embrace the snow leopard (Panthera uncia), mustelids, and people. If they really feel threatened or sense hazard, they could attempt to escape by climbing a rock column or tree.

If they will not flee, they stand on their hind legs to make themselves seem bigger and use the sharp claws on their front paws to defend themselves. A red panda turned a customer attraction in Japan for his capability to face upright for ten seconds at a time.

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Red Panda Diet

Red pandas are glorious climbers and forage largely in bushes. They eat largely bamboo and will eat small mammals, birds, eggs, flowers, and berries. In captivity, they had been noticed to eat birds, flowers, maple and mulberry leaves, and bark and fruits of maple, beech, and mulberry.

Like the enormous panda, they can’t digest cellulose, so they need to devour a big quantity of bamboo to outlive. Their diets encompass about two-thirds of bamboo, however in addition they eat mushrooms, roots, acorns, lichens, and grasses. Occasionally, they complement their diets with fish and bugs.

They do little more than eating and sleep resulting from their low-calorie diets.

Bamboo shoots are more simply digested than leaves, exhibiting the very best digestibility in summer and autumn, intermediate digestibility within the spring, and lowest digestibility within the winter. These variations correlate with the nutrient contents within the bamboo.

Red pandas process bamboo poorly, particularly the cellulose and cell wall elements. This implies microbial digestion performs solely a minor position of their digestive strategy.

To survive on this poor-quality diet, they should eat the high-quality sections of the bamboo plant, such because the tender leaves and shoots, in giant portions, over 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) of recent leaves and 4 kg (8.8 lb) of recent shoots every day.

This meal passes by means of the digestive tract pretty quickly (about 2–4 hr) in order to maximize everyday nutrient consumption. Red pandas can style artificial sweeteners, comparable to aspartame, and are the one nonprimates identified to have the ability to achieve this.

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Red Panda Food/Eating Habits

Bamboo constitutes about 95% of the red panda’s diet. Unlike big pandas that feed on practically every above-ground portion of bamboo (together with the culm, or woody stem), red pandas feed selectively on probably the most nutritious leaf suggestions and, when out there, tender shoots.

Like big pandas, red pandas grasp plant stems utilizing their forepaws and shear chosen leaves off with their mouths. Because red pandas are obligate bamboo eaters, they’re on a good energy budget for a lot of the year.

They may additionally forage for roots, succulent grasses, fruits, bugs and grubs, and are identified to often kill and eat birds and small mammals.

At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, red pandas eat bamboo, bamboo shoots (when in season), and leafeater biscuits. They have obtained enrichment treats, comparable to apples, grapes, bananas, blueberries, and different produce.

Social Structure

Red pandas are solitary besides through the breeding season. In human care, most breeding pairs dwell collectively year-round. In the wild, the house range of 1 animal is about 1 square mile.

Size

Adult red pandas usually weigh between Eight and 17 pounds (3.6 and seven.7 kilograms) and are 22 to 24.6 inches (56 to 62.5 centimeters) long, plus a tail of 14.6 to 18.6 inches (37 to 47.2 centimeters).

Communication

Red pandas are typically quiet, however, delicate vocalizations—comparable to squeals, twitters, and huff-quacks—might be heard at shut proximity.

They may additionally hiss or grunt, and younger cubs use a whistle, or high-pitched bleat, to sign misery. Red pandas will climb bushes and rocks to flee predators, comparable to leopards and jackals.

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Red Panda Reproduction

Red pandas are capable of reproducing at around 18 months of age and are absolutely mature at two to a few years. Adults not often work together within the wild besides to mate.

Both sexes could mate with more than one partner through the mating season from mid-January to early March. Just a few days before delivery, females start to gather materials, comparable to brushwood, grass, and leaves; to construct a nest, which is generally situated in a hole tree or a rock crevice.

After a gestation interval of 112 to 158 days, the feminine offers delivery in mid-June to late July to at least one to 4 (normally 1–2) blind and deaf cubs weighing 110 to 130 g (3.9 to 4.6 oz) every.

In the Northern Hemisphere, red pandas breed from January by means of March. In the Southern Hemisphere, the breeding season extends from June by means of August. The fast change in photoperiod, or day size, after the winter solstice, initiates this breeding season.

Mating happens on the ground, and gestation seems to incorporate a period of delayed implantation, which can be as quick as 93 days or as long as 156 days.

Reproduction expends a great deal of energy, so it’s believed {that a} long gestation interval could also be the result of a sluggish metabolic fee. Late spring births also coincide with the emergence of probably the most tender and digestible bamboo shoots and leaves.

Females create a nest in tree holes, hole stumps, tree roots, or bamboo thickets and line the nest with moss, leaves, and different comfortable plant materials. Litters usually encompass two cubs born between May and July within the Northern Hemisphere.

Red pandas are born utterly lined in fur to guard them against the chilly setting. Newborns of the species Ailurus fulgens fulgens weigh 3-4 ounces (about 90-110 grams).

The offspring stick with the mom for about one year, which is about when they’re full-grown. Red pandas attain sexual maturity at around 18 months of age.

After delivery, the mom cleans the cubs, and may then acknowledge every by their odor. At first, she spends 60% to 90% of her time with the cubs.

After the first week, the mom begins spending more time outdoors the nest, returning each few hours to nurse and groom the cubs. She strikes the younger continuously amongst a number of nests, all of which she retains clear.

The cubs start to open their eyes at about 18 days of age. By about 90 days, they obtain full adult fur and coloring and start to enterprise out of the nest. They additionally start consuming strong meals at this level, weaning at around six to eight months of age.

The cubs stick with their mom till the next litter is born within the following summer season. Males not often assist increase the younger and provided that they dwell in pairs or in small teams.

Red Panda Sleep Habits

In human care, red pandas might be energetic at any time of day however are primarily crepuscular, or most energetic at daybreak and nightfall. On average, they spend about 45 % of the day awake and are usually more energetic in a cooler climate, particularly through the winter mating season.

In considerably chilly temperatures, red pandas can grow to be dormant, reducing their metabolic fee and elevating it each few hours as they get up to search for meals.

This adaptation permits red pandas to spend practically as little energy as sloths, which could be very helpful contemplating the low diet content of their diet.

They additionally exhibit temperature-regulating behaviors, comparable to curling into a good ball to preserve body warmth and energy expenditure within the chilly. Conversely, when temperatures heat, red pandas stretch out on branches and pants to decrease their body temperature.

Lifespan

Red pandas could dwell as long as 23 years. They present signs of age at around 12 to 14 years old. While females don’t breed after age 12, males proceed to be reproductively successful.

Red Panda Threats

The main threats to red pandas are direct harvest from the wild, dwell or useless, competitors with home livestock leading to habitat degradation, and deforestation leading to habitat loss or fragmentation.

The relative significance of those components is totally different in every area and isn’t nicely understood. On occasion, in India, the largest menace appears to be habitat loss adopted by poaching, whereas in China, the largest menace appears to be looking and poaching.

A 40% lower red panda population has been reported in China during the last 50 years, and populations in western Himalayan areas are thought-about to be lower.

Deforestation can inhibit the unfold of red pandas and exacerbate the natural inhabitant’s subdivision by topography and ecology, resulting in extreme fragmentation of the remaining wild inhabitants.

Fewer than 40 animals in 4 separate teams share assets with people in Nepal’s Langtang National Park, the place solely 6% of 1,710 km2 (660 sq mi) is the most well-liked red panda habitat. Although direct competitors for meals with home livestock is just not important, livestock can depress bamboo growth by trampling.

In south-west China, red pandas are hunted for his or her fur, particularly for the extremely valued bushy tails, from which hats are produced. In these areas, the fur is commonly used for native cultural ceremonies.

In weddings, the bridegroom historically carries the conceal. The “good-luck charm” red panda-tail hats are additionally utilized by native newly-weds.

In the previous, red pandas had been captured and bought to zoos. In an article showing within the International Zoo News in 1969, one reported he personally had handled 350 red pandas in 17 years.

Due to CITES, this zoo harvest has decreased considerably in recent times, however, poaching continues, and red pandas are sometimes bought to non-public collectors at exorbitant costs. In some elements of Nepal and India, red pandas are stored as pets.

The red panda has a naturally low delivery fee (normally one single or twin delivery per year), and a high demise fee within the wild.

Red Panda Conservation

The red panda is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008 as a result of the worldwide inhabitants is estimated at about 10,000 people, with a lowering inhabitants development; solely about half of the total space of potential habitat of 142,000 km2 (55,000 sq mi) is definitely being utilized by the species.

Due to its shy and secretive nature, and its largely nocturnal habits, commentary of red pandas is troublesome. Therefore, inhabitants figures within the wild are decided by inhabitants density estimates and never direct counts. It is protected in all range nations, and looking is unlawful. It is listed in CITES Appendix I.

Worldwide inhabitants estimates range from fewer than 2,500 to between 16,000 and 20,000 people. In 1999, the total number of inhabitants in China was estimated at between 3,000 and seven,000 people.

In 2001, the number of wild inhabitants in India was estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000 people. Estimates for Nepal point out only some hundred people. Reliable inhabitants numbers are onerous to search out, partly as a result of different animals have been mistaken for the red panda.

On occasion, one report from Myanmar said that red pandas had been nonetheless pretty widespread in some areas; nevertheless, the accompanying photographic proof of the “red panda” was actually a viverrid species.

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