Red panda

Be ready to be puzzled by this vegetarian carnivore!

Crouched in the canopy of east Himalayan slopes of wilderness is 140 years of taxonomic bewilderment. Don’t assume, no matter how tempting the prospect is, that red pandas borrow their name from what is now infamously referred to as the ‘giant panda’ (black and white, originally called the parti-colored bear); on the very contrary, red pandas got their name fifty years before we even discovered giant pandas. Before taxonomists realized that red pandas were their unique type (deserving their own separate family), they were classified with bears and even raccoons because of their physical appearance.

Sadly, fewer than 10,000 of these fascinating leaf-eating carnivores are left today, and they are tweeting for help! (The sound they make from their mouths is called ‘twittering’).


Population est.

Did you know?

  • Taxonomists believe there are two distinct species of red pandas, the Himalayan red panda and the Chinese red panda, based on genetic investigations. They are neither raccoons nor bears; instead, they belong to their own unique family.
  • Kichi Mowgli’s best friend, the famous character from “Jungle book,” is none other than a soft furry red panda.
  • Red pandas, like giant pandas, have an elongated wrist bone that serves as a sort of thumb and aids in grasping bamboo shoots.
  • Although the precise number of animals in the wild is unknown, a 2015 estimate reveals a 50% decrease since 1997. According to forecasts, this decline will likely continue and accelerate in the near future.
  • Perhaps as a result of Chinese demand, there seem to be more reports of Red Panda poaching and smuggling.
  • Red pandas are killed for a variety of reasons, such as pets, medicine, wild meat, and pelts. Trends in offtake as well as geographically specific patterns of harvest and use, are not extensively recorded, nor are offtake levels or trends.
  • Although this hasn’t been proven, it has been suspected that the growing numbers of red panda pet-trade online are captive-bred in China.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No