Red pandas are the only living member of their taxonomic family. While their scientific name, Ailurus fulgens, means “fire cat,” they share more similarities with raccoons and bears. Like giant pandas, red pandas are bamboo eaters and are native to Asia’s high forests.
Habitat: Red pandas are found in the Himalayas and mountainous regions of northern Myanmar and western Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces in China. They live in temperate climates in forests with thick bamboo.
Diet: 85 – 95% of their diet consists of bamboo, but they also eat roots, fruits, small lizards, and bird eggs.
Family Life: Red pandas are largely solitary, but occasionally come together in small groups and play with each other. Females are only fertile for a few days, and undergo delayed implantation: the fertilized eggs don’t implant or develop right away. Females build birthing dens in hollow trees, stumps, or rock crevices. Litters typically consist of two cubs, though a female may have one to four. Cubs stay with their mother until they are one year old.
The red panda’s conservation status is listed as endangered.
- Red pandas face a number of threats, including habitat loss due to logging, agriculture, and human encroachment as well as hunting for fur, meat, and pet trade.
- Habitat fragmentation makes it difficult for populations to reach each other and interbreed, causing a reduction in genetic diversity.
- Bamboo is very poor in nutrients, so red pandas are only active about 56% of the day and have an extremely slow metabolism.
- Red pandas have a modified wrist bone that acts as a sixth finger to help them grasp bamboo.
- They eat 20-30% of their body weight each day.
- Their habitat is home to about 40 species of bamboo, but they only pick one or two of the most nutritious species to eat.
CLASS: Mammalia (mammals)
ORDER: Carnivora (carnivores)
FAMILY: Ailuridae (red panda)
GENUS: Ailurus (red panda)
SPECIES: Ailurus fulgens (red panda)
LIFE SPAN: 8 – 10 years (wild) / 15 – 23 years (zoo)
SIZE: 19 – 25 inches (50 – 64 cm)
WEIGHT: 6 – 13.5 pounds (3 – 6 kg)
TAIL LENGTH: 11 – 20 inches (28 – 50 cm)