Red panda

The mountainous woods of Asia are home to red pandas and giant pandas, both of which eat bamboo. The two species are not closely related despite these similarities and their similar names. Red pandas are the only surviving members of their taxonomic family and are considerably smaller than giant pandas.

Physical Description

Red pandas are clearly recognized thanks to their distinctive ruddy coat color, which serves as a form of camouflage in the canopy of fir trees where the limbs are covered.
They have short snouts, broad, pointed ears, and round, massive heads. Their white faces have reddish-brown “tear” markings that go from the corners of their mouths to their eyes. It’s possible that these patterns developed to shield their eyes from the sun. Red and buff rings alternately decorate their tails.
Red pandas have a thick, silky undercoat that is guarded by long, coarse hairs. These arboreal mammals‘ long, bushy tails aid in balance maintenance and shield them from chilly winds and weather. They are entirely covered with dense fur. feet with five toes that are widely spaced apart and claws that partially retract.
Red pandas use smell glands between their footpads, anal glands, and urine to mark their territory. Red pandas’ feet include smell glands on the bottom that release an odorless liquid that is colorless to humans. The underside of the red panda’s tongue, which possesses a cone-like structure for collecting fluids and putting it close to a gland inside its mouth, is used to detect smells. This adaption is unique to this carnivore.
Red pandas are adept climbers and use trees for protection, hiding from predators, and winter sunbathing. Their ankles are incredibly flexible, and the fibula and tibia are joined in a way that permits rotation of the fibula. toward its axis. Red pandas may adeptly climb headfirst down tree trunks due to these characteristics.
Red pandas have quite strong dentition compared to other carnivores of their size. They also have a straightforward carnivore stomach while eating primarily leaves. The giant panda’s pseudo-thumb, a modified wrist bone used to hold bamboo during feeding, is shared by red pandas.
The only extant member of the Ailuridae family is the red panda, whose taxonomic standing has long been a source of controversy among scientists. Because of their ecological traits and morphological resemblances in the skull, teeth, and ringed tail, they were first identified in 1825 as belonging to the raccoon family (Procyonidae), a contentious classification. Later, because to various DNA agreements, they were categorized under the family of bears (Ursidae).
However, according to the most recent genetic studies, red pandas belong to a separate family called the Ailuridae. Red pandas are an old species in the order Carnivora (superfamily Musteloidea), according to molecular phylogenetic analyses. They are most likely related to the group that contains skunks, raccoons, and weasels.
New genomic analyses reveal that the red panda, Ailurus fulgens fulgens, and Ailurus fulgens strain (also known as Ailurus fulgens refulgent), which were previously believed to be two subspecies, are actually two separate species. The latter is typically bigger and redder in tone than the former.

Red panda photos

Size

Red pandas are 22.3 to 24.8 inches (55 to 63 centimeters) long, with a tail that is 14 to 18.9 inches (38 to 47.5 centimeters) in length. They normally weigh between 8.5 and 17.5 pounds (3.9 and 7.9 kilograms).

Native Habitat

In the Himalayas and other high mountains, red pandas inhabit temperate, high-altitude forests with bamboo understories. They are found throughout China, from the western Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces to northern Myanmar (Burma). In Nepal, India, and Tibet, they can also be found in habitats that are suitable. Ailurus fulgens fulgens is primarily found in Nepal, although it is also present in India and Bhutan. The main geographic distributions of Ailurus fulgens styani (or Ailurus fulgens refulgens) are China and Myanmar.

Communication

Red pandas are usually silent, but when they are close by, they occasionally make low vocalizations like squeals, twitters, and huff-quacks. Young cubs use a whistle or a high-pitched bleat to indicate discomfort, and they may also hiss or grunt. Red pandas will scale trees and rocks to get away from predators like jackals and leopards.

Food/Eating Habits

About 95% of the red panda’s diet is bamboo. The most nutrient-dense leaf tips and, when available, tender shoots are the only parts of bamboo that red pandas choose to eat, as opposed to giant pandas who consume almost the whole above-ground portion of the bamboo plant, including the woody stem or culm.
Red pandas, like giant pandas, use their forepaws to grab plant stems and their jaws to shear off specific leaves. Red pandas have a limited supply of energy since they must consume bamboo exclusively. They have also been known to hunt and consume small mammals and birds on occasion. They may also scavenge for roots, succulent grasses, fruits, insects, and grubs.
Red pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoo eat leafeater biscuits, bamboo, and bamboo shoots when they are in season. They get enlightenment sweets like apples, grapes, bananas, blueberries, and other fruits and vegetables.

Social Structure

Except for when they are breeding, red pandas live alone. Most breeding pairs kept by humans cohabitate year round. One animal’s home territory in the wild is roughly 1 square mile.

Reproduction and Development

Northern Hemisphere red pandas breed from January to March. Breeding season in the Southern Hemisphere lasts from June through August. After the winter solstice, there is a sudden change in photoperiod, or day length, which starts this breeding season.
Mating takes place on the ground, and gestation appears to entail a phase of delayed implantation that could last 93 or 156 days. Given the high energy demands of reproduction, it is thought that a long gestation time could be the result of a slow metabolic rate. The most delicate and palatable bamboo shoots and leaves appear in the late spring, which also happens to be the time of birth.
Females build a nest in hollow tree stumps, bamboo thickets, tree roots, or holes in trees. Put moss, leaves, and other soft plant materials within the nest. In the Northern Hemisphere, litters normally contain two cubs that are born between May and July.
In order to protect them from the chilly climate, red pandas are born totally coated in fur. Ailurus fulgens fulgens newborns typically weigh 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 110 grams). Until they reach adulthood, the young remain with the mother for around a year. When red pandas are about 18 months old, they become sexually mature.

Sleep Habits

Red pandas raised in captivity can be active at any time of day, but they are most active during the crepuscular hours of dawn and twilight. They awaken for roughly 45 percent of the day on average, and they are more active in cooler months, particularly during the winter mating season.
Red pandas can go into dormancy in extremely cold weather, which causes their metabolic rate to drop and then rise as they wake up to hunt for food every few hours.
Given the low nutritional value of their diet, this adaptation enables red pandas to expend almost as little energy as sloths, which is quite advantageous. Additionally, they engage in temperature-regulating actions like curling up into a little ball to conserve body heat and reduce energy use in the cold. Conversely, Red pandas pant to reduce their body temperature when it’s warm by stretching out on branches.

Lifespan

Red panda is 23 years. At roughly 12 to 14 years old, they start to exhibit age-related symptoms. Males can still reproduce after the age of 12, however females can not.

Reference

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/red-panda

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