Is it a fox? Is it a cat? No, it’s a red panda!
Unlike the giant panda, red pandas are very agile acrobats. They live in solitary, rarely forming groups or families. Generally they are very quiet, withdrawn animals and like to keep to themselves under the cover of dense treetops.
Apart from being adorable, here are several interesting facts about these small, but gorgeous mammals.
Fact 1: Although they share their name with the black-and-white giant, red panda’s resemble raccoons and are usually 20 to 26 inches (50 to 65 cm) long, with a tail that stretches to an additional 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 cm). Red panda’s use their tails to balance among the trees and to keep warm in the winter time.
Fact 2: Red pandas weigh approximately 5% of the giant panda’s weight.
Fact 3: Red pandas live in the mountains of Nepal and Burma, and can also be found in central China. They spend most of their lives in trees found in rainy, high-altitude forests. They primarily eat bamboo leaves, but other foods as well, such as berries, blossoms and small bird eggs.
Fact 4: Just like a giant panda, a red panda has a small projection on its wrists, an extension of its wrist bone that almost acts like a thumb and helps it grip tree stalks.
Fact 5: Red pandas live alone except when mating.
Fact 6: The red panda is similar to its giant relative, but also closely resembles a cat but has the features of a raccoon. They are however considered as members of their own family the Ailuridae.
Fact 7: Red pandas produce chipmunk like sounds when communicating.
Fact 8: Their population is estimated to be less than 2400 and they are an endangered species. Their habitats have been reduced by global warming, but their greatest threat remains mankind.
Fact 9: Snow leopards and martens feed on the red panda!
Fact 10: Red pandas are nocturnal; they are active under the protection of the night’s darkness.
Fact 11: Like lizards, red pandas use their tongues to detect scents.
Fact 12: Much like a cat the red panda upon waking or eating, tends to lick its body and limbs, washing its face with a paw.
Fact 13: Male red panda fight for breeding rights. They stand on their hind legs and box with their forepaws, whilst arching their backs and keeping their heads low.
Fact 14: The gestation period is between 90 and 150 days. Birth usually occurs from mid-June to late July. After it gives birth, the female red panda keeps its young in a nest for a period of around 90 days. They reach adult size at around 12 months and usually leave their mother at this point in time.
Fact 15: A female red panda eats around 200,000 bamboo leaves in one day!
Fact 16: Red pandas live from 12 to 14 years in the wild.
Fact 17: The red panda was discovered 50 years earlier than the giant panda and is often referred to as the „first panda“. It was first described in the early 1820’s by western scientists.
Fact 18: The name „Panda“ originated from the Nepalese word for red panda „Nigalya poonya“, meaning „eater of bamboo“.
Fact 19: The web browser Firefox is named after the red panda, Firefox being the Chinese name for this small, red mammal.
Fact 20: Red pandas have their own day, the International Red Panda Day celebrated on the 20th of September!