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The 40 Most Interesting Red Panda Facts

Red pandas are not an average animal that you see out in the wilderness. If you have seen one, you should consider yourself a lucky person. There are only less than 10,000 red pandas in the world and most of them rarely come down from the trees.

Unfortunately, their population is still declining because of human activities such as poaching, deforestation, and natural reasons such as inbreeding depression.

To share some interesting and educational facts about red pandas, I submerged myself in wildlife journals, books, and watched several videos.

Here are the 40 red panda facts that you may enjoy.

  1. About 50 % of the Red Panda population lives in the eastern Himalayas and 38% in Nepal.
  2. Red pandas live in high altitudes. More specifically, they live in the temperate forest regions of high mountains.
  3. They stay closer to bamboo trees because they love to eat their juice leaves.
  4. Red pandas are a little bigger than domestic cats. They measure only 22-24.6 inches (56-62.5 cm.). The length of their tail can reach 14.6 – 18.6 inches (37-47.2 cm). And they weigh only 8 – 17 pounds (3.6-7.7 kilograms).
  5. Due to the small size, traps set for larger animals such as deer and foxes instantly kill red pandas.
  6. Red pandas are added to the IUCN Red List as an endangered species. Any person found guilty of killing, buying, or selling red pandas can face fines up to $1,000 or 10 years of jail time. That means you should not be messing around with these fluffy cuties.
  7. Red Pandas belong to the unique family called Ailuridae. Initially, scientists thought that they may either belong to the bear family or the family of raccoons. But, recent genetic researches revealed that red pandas are unique types of animals. Despite their name, they are not even close relatives with giant pandas either.
  8. Red pandas are solitary animals. They like to live alone. A roaming range of a single red panda is about 1 square mile (2.5 square meters). Females and males come closer to each other only during the mating season. However, in captivity, the pairs can live together all year round.
  9. Red pandas are nocturnal creatures. That means they are most active at nighttime as well as in the dawn and dusk hours. However, they can be also active during the day, especially when they are in captivity.
  10. Red pandas prefer cooler and colder temperatures. They are blessed with thick fur and a bushy tail that they use as a blanket. Plus, they sleep by curling their body into a ball shape to preserve their body temperature.
  11. If the weather is extremely cold, they remain dormant and slows down their metabolic rate to preserve energy. If they feel hungry, they slowly increase their metabolic rate and start foraging for food.
  12. Do you know why red pandas lay on the branches by stretching their whole body? They do it especially during the hot time of the year to cool down their body with the breeze. During the cold, they usually curl up their body when they sleep.

    A red panda laying on a branch / Credit: Pixabay
  13. Red pandas are classified as carnivores (animals that feed on other animals’ flesh), although 85 to 95 % of their diet is composed of plants such as bamboo leaves and fruits. However, it is also true that red pandas eat smaller insects, lizards, and birds to get adequate proteins.
  14. Southern China, Northern regions of Myanmar, forests of India, Bhutan, and Nepal are home to red pandas.
  15. Red pandas like to stay high from the ground. They thrive in the mountainous regions or high altitudes somewhere between 1.4 and 3 miles (2,200 and 4,800 meters). 
  16. Red pandas have semi-retractable claws that allow them to move easily from branch to branch and climb higher on a tree.
  17. Did you know that red pandas use their long tails to balance their body when they walk on the thin branches? With that type of balance, they may even beat the best tightrope walkers.

    Facts about red pandas
    A red panda is walking on a branch / Credit: Pixabay
  18. A red panda is the state animal of Sikkim. It is the state in northeast India.
  19. The majority of people find a red panda’s facial features so cute. Plus, they have a colorful reddish-brown upper body and darker underbelly. Inside of their ears, eyebrows, cheeks, and around their noses and mouths show whitish spots.
  20. Red pandas are the movie stars. They look gentle and calm. Because of that, a red panda was featured as pious Master Shifu in Kun Fu Panda.  
  21. It is not legal nor safe to keep a red panda as a pet. Their population is declining and the laws protect them in their natural habitats. Thus, it is illegal to buy and sell red pandas. If you know someone keeping it as a pet, the more likely they got it through illegal ways.
  22. Red pandas have thick fur under their feet that keep them warm on snow, prevents slippage, and protects them from scratches while climbing.
  23. There are two types of red pandas. The first type is called Ailurus fulgens fulgens and they live predominantly in Nepal, Bhutan, and India. The second one is Ailurus fulgens styani that lives in China and Myanmar.
  24. Red pandas love snow. If you visit a zoo during the winter season, you will be surprised by how actively red pandas play in the snow.
  25. Red pandas have dark brown eyes. They see exceptionally well during nighttime, but there is not enough information about their overall eyesight.
  26. A red panda has several names such as lesser panda, true panda, firefox, Himalayan raccoon, red-cat bear, fox bear.
  27. Did you know that the famous internet browser Firefox is named after red panda? Just pay attention to the Firefox logo, and you will see a red panda there, not fox as many people think.  
  28. Red pandas are real pandas. Because the word panda comes from the Nepalese word “nigalya ponya” which means “bamboo eater”. As far as characteristics are concerned, red pandas and giant pandas do not belong to the same family. The red panda is the only surviving member of the family of Ailuridae while giant pandas belong to the bear family known as Ursidae.
  29. Although red pandas exclusively live in Asia, they first appeared in the territory of present-day Spain during the Miocene.
  30. Red pandas are not that energetic. Because they consume a low-calorie vegetarian diet. So, they conserve their energy for eating and moving from branch to branch when necessary.
  31. Red pandas can spend their entire life on the tree without setting their foot on the ground.  
  32. Red pandas communicate in two ways. Firstly, they leave their scent in the branches through which others can get information about their sex, age, fertility, and territory. Secondly, red pandas communicate through sounds such as hiss and grunt, squeal, huff-quack, and twitter. However, red pandas use scent marks more often than sounds.
  33. Red pandas are excellent climbers thanks to their flexible ankles, sharp claws, and slip-proof fur-covered feet. Did you know that red pandas can climb down the trees head-first? Not many animals can do that. 

    Red panda is climbing down from a tree / Credit: Pixabay
  34. The majority of red pandas are kept in captivity under special protection to increase their numbers. Only an estimated 2,500 red pandas are freely living in the wilderness.
  35. Female red pandas give birth to one to four young cubs and it is usually during the spring and summer seasons. However, they rarely give birth to more than two cubs. Young cubs stay with their mothers for about a year until they start living independent life.
  36. Females take care of the young ones for about 90 days inside their nests while males show little or no interest in their offspring.
  37. The lifespan of red pandas is 8 years in the wilderness and 14 years in captivity. However, they can live up to 23 years depending on their environment. Females stop breeding after the age of 12. However, males remain fertile for longer years.
  38. Red Pandas’ gestation period can last as long as 156 days. Interestingly, they give birth when bamboo lives are more tender and digestible. That time is usually late spring.
  39. Despite their cute and calm appearance, they can bite humans. Especially when they feel threatened. So, it is recommended to be extra careful when you try to pet them.
  40. Red pandas do not hibernate. Instead, they become more playful during the wintertime as their thick fur protects them from cold weather.

By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of FactPros.com
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
Loves nature, Likes history, and Adores anything interesting
To get tailored writing or to work with, contact at [email protected]

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