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Red Panda

Ailurus fulgens

About the Red Panda


Geographic Range:


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ailuridae
Genus: Ailurus  
Species: fulgens

The red panda resembles a raccoon because of its ringed tail and mask-like face. It's named for the soft, dense red fur that covers even the soles of its feet, keeping it warm in the forests of its Himalayan habitat. The red panda’s daily grooming ritual includes licking the soles of its furry feet. The red panda has a bushy tail that provides balance while climbing trees, where its red-and-white markings camouflage it among the mosses and lichens that grow on the trees of its habitat. 

Red Panda Facts

The red panda is furry and red with soft, dense fur. This coat covers its entire body, even the soles of its feet, to keep the panda warm and reduce heat loss in the cold. They use their long, bushy tails to cover their face and keep their nose warm in the cold, as well as for balance when climbing in the trees.

Red pandas have red and white markings on their faces and tails that help them blend in with mosses and lichens growing on trees in their habitat. Their ears are large and pointed with white edges. Their feet are fully furred, and semi-retractable razor-sharp claws help pandas climb trees. Like the giant panda, red pandas have a bony projection on their wrist that acts like a thumb. This helps them grip bamboo stalks. Their large mouths and powerful jaws and teeth help them crush the stalks.

Weight: 10 to 12 pounds.
Length: 1.5 to 2 feet; tail adds an additional 1 to 1.5 feet.

Red pandas primarily eat a vegetarian diet of bamboo leaves, berries, roots, blossoms and the leaves of various plants. They will sometimes also eat birds’ eggs, insects, small rodents and young birds.

The red panda’s breeding season is between January and April, and they are sexually mature at 18 months. After a gestation period of approximately 130 days, females give birth to one to four cubs. Cubs are born with all their fur but are blind and helpless. Their eyes typically open after two to four weeks. Cubs remain in the nest for 90 days and are weaned around five months. They stay with their mother for up to one year.

Red pandas are shy and solitary except during mating season. They're mostly active at night (nocturnal) as well as dawn and dusk (crepuscular), sleeping in trees during the day. They communicate through a variety of noises including shrill cries, whistling and chirping. Pandas groom themselves daily.

Red pandas are found in the cool temperate bamboo forests in the foothills of the Himalayas. They range from Nepal to Southwest China.

Median Life Expectancy:
About 11 years.

Threats in the Wild:
Red pandas are listed as vulnerable. The main threats to the red panda are illegal hunting and habitat destruction from increased logging and farming. Because red pandas have a slow rate of reproduction due to slow growth, it is difficult for red pandas to recover from population declines.