Red Panda

Red Panda

Lesser panda, Red bear-cat, Red cat-bear

Ailurus fulgens
Population size
16-20 Thou
Life Span
8-14 yrs
38 km/h
3-6.2 kg
50-64 cm

The Red panda is approximately the size of a large housecat and has a cat-like face. Their rusty-colored fur is thick and covers their body except for their ears (which are almost white), their cheeks, muzzle, and the spots above their eyes. Their dense fur keeps them warm during winter. Reddish-brown stripes run along both sides of their white muzzle, and there are dark and lights rings on their long, bushy tails. They have woolly, thick fur on the bottoms of their feet, which serves to help keep their feet warm and prevent them from slipping on wet branches.


The range of Red pandas extends from northern Myanmar to western Nepal. They also live in the mountains of southwestern China (Sichuan, Xizang, and Yunnan provinces). They inhabit mountainous mixed deciduous and conifer forests, especially with old trees and dense understories of bamboo.

Red Panda habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Red pandas are nocturnal and usually solitary. They sleep during the day high up in the tree canopy, wrapping their long, bushy tail around them to keep warm. Shortly after waking, Red pandas clean their fur somewhat like a cat would, licking their front paws and then rubbing their backs, torsos, and sides. They also rub their backs and bellies along the sides of trees or rocks. Then they patrol their territories, marking with urine and a weak musk-smelling secretion from their anal glands. They search for food running along the ground or through the trees. Red pandas may use their forepaws alternately to bring food to their mouths or place food directly into their mouths. Red pandas are generally quiet except for some twittering, tweeting, and whistling communication sounds.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Red pandas belong to a carnivorous group of mammals, but they mostly eat bamboo shoots, so their diet is almost vegetarian. They will also eat other foods such as grasses, acorns, and berries, as well as grubs, lizards, mice, chicks, and birds' eggs.

Mating Habits

4 months
1-5 cubs
6-8 months

Red pandas are polygynous; males and females may take more than one partner during a season, which is usually between January and March. After a gestation of around 4 months, 1-5 cubs are born. In preparation for the birth, the female constructs a nest inside a tree hollow. After a week, a female will spend more time out of the nest, coming back every few hours to groom and nurse the young, and clean the nest. The cubs stay in the nest for about 90 days, and are weaned at around 6-8 months old. They first leave the nest at night. They eat bamboo only until being old enough to digest other foods. The cubs can breed from around 18 months old but they become fully reproductively mature when they are 2 to 3 years old.


Population threats

Red panda main threats are habitat degradation and loss due to deforestation. They are also hunted and poached and suffer from encounters with stray dogs. People, often children, sometimes disturb their habitat and try to catch an individual which sometimes causes their death, particularly if they are young.

Population number

According to Wikipedia, as of 2001, Red panda population estimates range between 16,000 and 20,000 individuals, including 3,000-7,000 individuals in China, 5,000-6,000 in India, and a few hundred in Nepal. Most of them live within national parks in small protected zones. The ICUN classifies the red panda as "Endangered”, with a decreasing population trend.

Ecological niche

Red pandas have an important role in their ecosystem, controlling the populations they prey upon. They live in South Asia's middle mountains in forests which are the lungs of this area. If these forests are kept intact, the people, plants, and animals of South Asia can live a healthy life.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Red pandas detect different scents with their tongues.
  • The internet browser Firefox is named after Red pandas, being another name for them. Mozilla wanted to use the name Firebird, but because another project had taken that name they chose Firefox.
  • The claws of the Red panda are partially retractable, with an extended bone like a "thumb".
  • Red pandas can eat as much as 200 000 bamboo leaves per day.
  • The Red panda had the name "panda," before it was given to the big black and white one.
  • "Wah" is another name for the Red panda because of its distinctive cry.


1. Red Panda Wikipedia article -
2. Red Panda on The IUCN Red List site -

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