Where to see them:
Red panda habitat, Asian Forest
Red pandas have enlarged wrist bones known as pseudothumbs that help them grasp their food efficiently.
Red pandas are typically nocturnal and crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn); they sleep in trees during the day.
Red pandas mark their territory with scent from an anal gland, urine and feces. Their trails are also marked automatically with scent from glands on the soles of their feet. The usual communication call is a series of short whistles and squeaks. When frightened or angry, they stand on their hind legs and make sharp spitting hisses or a series of snorts.
Length: 31 to 47 inches (including the tail length of 30 to 60 centimeters/12 to 24 inches).
Weight: 6-15 pounds
Red pandas inhabit high-altitude (3,000 to 12,000 feet) mountain forests and bamboo thickets in south central Asia, from the Himalayas to southern China.
Red pandas inhabit climates of moderate temperature (10-25°C) with little annual fluctuation and prefer forested mountainous areas at elevations of 5,000 to 15,700 feet (1,800-4,800 meters), particularly temperate deciduous-coniferous forests with an understory of rhododendron and, of course, bamboo. Red pandas are cavity nesters, using rock dens and old hollow trees. They often spend the day drooped over a branch high in the trees, feeding more actively at dawn and dusk.
Red pandas typically live alone, but sometimes form pairs or small family groups. They are crepuscular and nocturnal and usually sleep in trees during the day. Their disposition is mild; they are gentle, curious and generally quiet unless threatened. The red panda carries its tail straight and horizontal while on the ground, but when in a tree they will use it to keep their balance.
The red panda eats mostly bamboo. Like the giant panda, red pandas cannot digest cellulose, so they must consume a large volume of bamboo to survive. Two-thirds of their diet consists of bamboo, but they also eat berries, fruit, mushrooms, roots, acorns, lichen and grasses. Red pandas are also known to supplement their diet with young birds, eggs, small rodents, and insects on occasion.
Red pandas are solitary animals, usually seeking a partner only for mating from the end of December to the middle of March. Gestation is 112 to 158 days, which is thought to be a long gestation period for such a small mammal. The litter size is one to four cubs, with the average being two. Cubs are born blind and weigh between 110-130 grams. Only the mother cares for the young until they are weaned around 6-8 months of age. Cubs stay with their mothers until the next cubs are born the following summer or until they are approximately 1 year old. Red pandas start to become sexually mature at about 18 months of age and are fully mature at 2-3 years.
Some of My Neighbors (IN THE WILD)
Giant panda, snow leopard, takin, golden monkey, macaques
Population Status & Threats
The red panda is an SSP species and is listed under CITES Appendix 1. The species is also considered endangered in China and protected in Nepal. The main threat to this species’ survival is habitat destruction, but red pandas also face threats from hunting and natural predators. The red panda is also affected by the competition of local livestock. Exact population numbers are unknown. There may only be a few hundred in Nepal and as few as 5,000 or 6,000 in China. Recent research in the field has shown that red panda numbers are declining. Some illegal hunting, and more importantly, habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, has contributed to their endangered status. The international red panda studbook program works to coordinate captive breeding efforts worldwide.
Zoo Atlanta Conservation Efforts
Support from Zoo Atlanta goes toward education programs, population monitoring and community-based conservation practices in eastern Nepal, where red pandas are currently classified as endangered as a result of habitat loss.