The Enigmatic Red Panda: Exploring Its World

Red Panda

Whenever we hear the word “Panda”, an image of a cute black and white furry creature comes to our mind. But what most of us don’t know is that one other Panda species in the wild is differently colored rather than black and white: Red Panda. 

As it is named, Red Panda is a mammal, having a bear-like body covered with bright reddish brown fur and a long furry tail. Let’s discover the fascinating secrets and qualities of the Red Panda, making it an incredible species.

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Meet the Red Panda, also known as the Lesser Panda.

Red Panda

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The Red Panda is a small mammal with dense reddish-brown fur over its body. It has a black belly and legs, a white patched muzzle, white lined ears, and a long bushy tail with rings on the tips. They comprise a head-to-body length of around 50 to 65 cm similar to that of a large domestic cat and weigh up to 15 kg. 

Red Pandas are native to the Eastern Himalayas and Southwestern China.

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The Red Pandas inhabit the forest regions of Nepal, Tibet, Northern Myanmar, and states of India including Sikkim, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, and China’s Sichuan and Yunnan. They like to reside in coniferous forests as well as temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, especially the areas covered with dense bamboo close to water sources. 

 Red Panda is arboreal and famous for its incredible acrobatic skills.

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Red Panda

However, its tail is not prehensile but it helps in maintaining balance while climbing trees. The flexible joints of the pelvis and hindlimbs also enable them for an arboreal lifestyle. 

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On average, a Red Panda eats around 20,000 bamboo leaves every day.

Red Pandas are largely herbivorous and primarily feed on bamboo leaves. They also include fruits, acorns, blossoms, eggs, birds, and small mammals in their diet. Bamboo leaves are the only food that is accessible during winter, and throughout the year as well. On Average, a Red Panda can eat 20,000 Bamboo leaves in a day. 

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Red Panda eating Bamboo

Usually, they eat their food by sitting down or standing while grabbing it with one of their front paws. To eat the bamboo leaves, they grasp the stem, pull it towards their jaws, and bite the leaves with their side cheek teeth.

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 Red Panda vs Giant Panda

However, their name has the word Panda, but as per modern evidence, Red Pandas are in close affinity with raccoons, skunks, and weasels. Despite the similarity of having elongated wrist bones or false thumbs for grasping bamboo like Giant Panda, Red Pandas are not closely related to them.

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Red Pandas are solitary animals and they are most active during the early morning and evening hours, known as crepuscular. 

Females Pandas give birth to a litter of one to four cubs after a gestation period of around 130 days.

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Red Panda with babies

The reproduction season of Red Pandas starts in January and lasts till the end of March. 

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Surprisingly before giving birth to babies, the female pandas select a site, such as a tree, log, or rock crevice, and build a nest using the plant material and moss. They give birth to a litter of up to four cubs that are blind but fully furred. Mothers take care of their cubs for the first five months. 

Their reddish-brown furry coats and white face markings provide camouflage in the white lichen of trees and the red-brown moss. 

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Red Panda

The Red Panda is primarily threatened by the increasing human population, deforestation, and disturbances by herders, which led to the fragmentation of their habitat. Poaching is also a major threat. Red Pandas are ideal targets for the illegal pet trade due to their attractive furs and charismatic appearance. 

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The Red Panda has been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. By increasing awareness, running conservation programs, taking strict legal actions against the hunters,  and implementing anti-poaching measures, we can protect this enchanting species. 

Hope you like reading about the Red Pandas!! Please comment down your thoughts. 

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