Ten Facts about the Red Panda That Makes It Special

By iPanda

Red Panda with Smily Face by iPandaiPanda

1. They have cute and easily recognizable appearance

The red panda can be easily identified by its coat color - reddish brown above and black underneath with white markings on the face. 

This color combination helps them camouflage from their predators, as they blend in great with the red moss, white lichen and yellow-orange-red foliage of their forest habitat.

Red Panda Turning Its Back by iPandaiPanda

2. They are not closely related to the giant panda

Despite its name, the red panda isn’t actually closely related to the giant panda. In fact, the name 'panda' was first applied to it, and not to the larger black-and-white bear. 

Red Panda Eating Apple by iPandaiPanda

Frédéric Cuvier, a French zoologist, first described the red panda in 1825, a few decades before the giant panda was cataloged. He called it the most beautiful animal he had ever seen. 

Red Panda Beside Bamboo Forest by iPandaiPanda

3. They have their own independent genetic family

Red pandas are the only living creatures in their family - Ailuridae. Actually, their taxonomic position has long been a subject of scientific debate. They were firstly classified in the raccoon family and then the bear family. Most recent genetic research, however, places red pandas in their own, independent family. 

Red Panda Eating Pumpkin by iPandaiPanda

4. They like eating bamboo and sweet food

Red pandas are the result of what naturalists call convergent evolution: they're classified as carnivores, while like giant pandas, they feed mainly on bamboo. 

Red pandas supplement their diet with fruits, eggs, insects and birds, and they have a sweet tooth. It also share the giant panda's pseudo-thumb, a modified wrist bone used to grasp bamboo.

Red Panda in Sleep by iPandaiPanda

5. They spend most of time eating and sleeping

Considering the low nutrition content of their diet, red pandas are on a tight energy budget, so they spend most of their time sleeping and eating.

In significantly cold temperatures, red pandas can become dormant. Their metabolic rate gets lower and increases only every few hours to wake them up so they can look for food.

Red Panda Standing on Tree Branches by iPandaiPanda

6. They are good at climbing trees

Red pandas are skilled climbers, using trees for shelter, to escape predators and to sunbathe. 

Their ankles are extremely flexible, and they can climb straight down a tree headfirst! Their long, sharp, semi-retractable claws help them traverse tree branches easily.

Red Panda Standing up by iPandaiPanda

7. They stand up when being provoked or threatened

Red pandas are able to stand on their hind legs. This is actually a defense mechanism as when provoked or threatened, standing up makes them appear larger. They may also make some loud noises, and even defend themselves with their sharp claws or release a foul smell from their scent glands. If you ever see a standing red panda you’d better keep your distance! 

Red Panda with Long Tail by iPandaiPanda

8. Their tail plays an important role

The red panda has a long, thick bushy tail with alternating red and buff rings.

It is used to help it maintain balance in the trees. It can be put around themselves for warmth during winter. It can even be used as a pillow when in bed!

Red Panda Taking a Walk by iPandaiPanda

9. They are alone for the most of time

Red pandas are normally solitary creatures but come together in pairs in the breeding season. Just like the giant panda, the female red panda is only fertile for one or two days a year. 

After mating the female builds a nest or use hollow tree trunks or small caves to give birth. The male red panda rarely helps its female partner raising their babies.

Red Panda Standing on Tree Branches by iPandaiPanda

10. International Red Panda Day

A special day was set for red pandas - the International Red Panda Day. It is celebrated on the third Saturday of September every year since 2010 to raise public awareness and support for red panda conservation, as their lives are threatened by habitat loss and poaching. 

There may be as few as 10000 remaining in the wild, elusively found in the mountain forests of Asian countries such as Nepal, India, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. They are now being protected by legislation in China.

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