Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)

Personally, I think the Red panda is an adorable little fur-ball, though that’s only partly why I decided to blog this mammal. The other is simply for the reason that it was the first animal to pop into my head at the time.

Fun Fact: The Red Panda symbolizes gentleness and wisdom.

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Ailuridae

Genus: Ailurus

Species: fulgens


Body and Skeletal Structure:

red-panda-bodyred-panda-body-2red-panda-skeletonred-panda-skeleton-2


Description:

Size:

A red panda’s head-to-body length is typically around 20 to 26, while its tail length is 11 to 20 in. As for its weight, it’s typically about 6 to 14 lbs. The males are usually heavier and larger than the females, as they are with most animals.

Fun Fact: The red panda is about the same size as a large house-cat. 

Fur:

These semi-fluffy little creatures have a cat-like face and a long, bushy tail (that help them keep their balance.. Their rusty colored thick fur covers their body, with the exception of their almost white colored ears, cheeks, muzzle and spots above their eyes. The red panda also has reddish-brown stripes that run down on both sides of their white muzzle, along with alternating light and dark rings on their tails. Also, a majority of their underside, including forelegs and hind legs, is of a black hue. A red panda’s dense fur helps to keep itself warm during the cold winter, along with having thick and woolly fur on the soles of their feet (which not only helps to keep their feet warm but also prevents them from slipping on wet branches). The designs, or spreads, of their fur coloring can vary a bit.

Diet:

Although red pandas are classified as carnivorous, they are mostly vegetarians. A majority of their diet consists of eating bamboo. However, they do eat other foods such as acorns, berries, grasses, grubs, small rodents, small birds and their eggs, and lizards to supplement their diet.

Fun Fact: Only a few species depend mostly on bamboo for their food: red pandas, giant pandas, bamboo lemurs from Madagascar, and bamboo rats from China and Southeast Asia.

Typical Lifespan:

Most red pandas tend to live between 8 to 12 years old.


Reproduction:

Mating Season: Typically January-March

Gestation Period: About 4 months

Litter Size: 1-4 cubs (Average Size: 2-3 cubs)


Jiao, Female


Communication and Behavior:

The red panda is a nocturnal and generally solitary animal, except during the breeding season. When adult red pandas do socialize, on occasion, they exchange information using scent glands, visual cues including “stare downs” with head bobbing, and a variety of calls. Newborns in distress use a high-pitched whistle. Red pandas that feel threatened usually make an ear-splitting, grumbly barking sound. Adults use high-frequency twitters and low-frequency bleats during breeding season. Other sounds they use include squeals, snorts, and audible exhales.

Red pandas spend their daylight hours sleeping in the branches high in the tree canopy with their long, bushy tail wrapped around them to keep them warm. Although they’re known to feed in the trees, they usually come down to the ground after dusk to begin foraging in the safety of the darkness. The red panda is also a territorial animal that marks its patch with droppings, urine and secretions from their anal and paw glands. The red panda is a strong and agile climber that not only sleeps safely in the branches during the day but also can dart up a trunk if threatened by predators, aided by its sharp claws.

Females are usually more social and active than the males because they care for their young. When expectant mothers are a few days close to giving birth, they begin building a hollow tree, stump, or rock crevice, lining it with twigs, leaves, grass, moss, and small branches. Red panda cubs tend to engage in lots of social play with each other that includes lunging, wrestling, and biting. Cubs venture out from the den when they’re about three months old. By five months of age, they’re almost as large as their mother. The cubs mature at about 18 to 20 months, and they’re  driven away by their mother at that time so she can get ready to raise her next litter. The males rarely help with raising the young.

Fun Fact: Like giant pandas, they have an extended wrist bone that functions almost like a thumb and greatly aids their grip.


Habitat and Range:

Red pandas are usually found to reside in temperate forests in the Himalayas that contain bamboo, similar to the Giant Panda.

red-panda-range


Conservation Status:

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As of now, red pandas are an Endangered species. There are about less than 3,000 individuals remaining in the wild, and they are continually threatened by habitat loss and even poaching to some extent.


red-panda-naushad-waheed
Red Panda Painting by Naushad Waheed.

Resources:

Red Panda | Wikipedia

Ailurus fulgens | The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) | A-Z Animals

Red Panda | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants

About the Red Panda | Red Panda Network

Red Panda | National Geographic

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