Red Panda

Scientific Name: Ailurus fulgens
Irish Name: Panda rua
IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Contrary to their name, red pandas are not bears and are not even related to giant pandas but are their own genetic group, Ailuridae. The word ‘panda’ derives from the meaning ‘bamboo eater’, hence why the two bamboo-loving animals are both called pandas. Red pandas have a unique ruddy coat, they have large round heads, short snouts and big pointed ears. They have long, bushy, ringed tails. They are about the size of a large domestic cat.

Red Panda

Contrary to their name, red pandas are not bears and are not even related to giant pandas but are their own genetic group, Ailuridae. The word ‘panda’ derives from the meaning ‘bamboo eater’, hence why the two bamboo-loving animals are both called pandas. Red pandas have a unique ruddy coat, they have large round heads, short snouts and big pointed ears. They have long, bushy, ringed tails. They are about the size of a large domestic cat.

General Information

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

Red pandas are found in the Himalayas, in Nepal, Bhutan, China and small parts of India. Their habitat is temperate forest where bamboo is plentiful.

How long do they live?

Red pandas live for approximately 10 years in the wild, and up to 15 years in zoos.

What do they eat?

Red pandas largely forage in trees. Bamboo is their main food but they are omnivorous and will eat small mammals, eggs, flowers and berries. They cannot digest cellulose and therefore must eat large amounts of bamboo in order to gain nutrition.

Group name

Red pandas have no group name as adults are solitary, except during breeding.

Zoo location

Near Flamingo lagoon.

Closest related species / sister species

Red pandas have no real distinct 'closest relative', probably most closely related to the group that includes weasels, raccoons and skunks.

Animal class

Mammalia

Animal order

Carnivora

Fun facts

Fan favourite

Dublin Zoo asked it's visitors which animal was their favourite and guess who came up on top? Red pandas!

Head first

Red pandas are one of the few animals on earth that can descend from heights head-first!

Shedding pounds

Over the winter, red pandas can lose up to 15% of body weight.

Keeping warm

Red pandas use their big bushy ringed tails as a wraparound blanket in chilly mountain heights.

Extra grip

They have an extended wrist bone that functions almost like a thumb and greatly aids their grip.

Hide

Family Life

Red pandas are shy and solitary except when breeding. Females give birth in spring and summer. The young remain in the nest for about 90 days and stay with their mother until the next litter arrives. Males do not take part in rearing the young.

Baby name

A baby red panda is called a cub.

Gestation (pregnancy) period

Pregnancy last for up to 158 days.

Number of young at birth

1-4 cubs.

Weight at birth

Cubs weigh approximately 90-100 grams at birth.

Age at maturity

Red pandas reach sexual maturity at around 18 months.

Size adult

60 cm in length from the head to the end of the body, the tail is another 40 cm long. Red pandas weigh up to 6.2 kg and both males and females are similar sizes.

Hide

Conservation

Vulnerable

The red panda is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation in Nature

Current population estimate

Difficult to estimate but may be less than 10,000 mature adults. Population has decreased by about 50% over last 18 years.

Threats

The main threat is habitat loss (deforestation), natural disasters, and poaching for their fur.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

Dublin Zoo, along with other European zoos, is providing funding for red panda conservation in Nepal.

Specifically, Dublin Zoo is supporting a project coordinated by the Red Panda Network in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung corridor. This corridor links important habitats for red pandas that are home to 25% of the red panda population in Nepal. The project operates in conjunction with local people called forest guardians. Forest guardians monitor red panda populations and their habitat in their local areas and collect information on how people are using the forest. They also raise awareness about red pandas and their threats in their local communities and are involved with anti-poaching activities.

Hide

Red pandas meets new mate

FAQs

  • Why are red pandas endangered?

    The main threat is habitat loss (deforestation), natural disasters, and poaching for their fur.

  • What do red pandas eat?

    Red pandas largely forage in trees. Bamboo is their main food but they are omnivorous and will eat small mammals, eggs, flowers and berries. They cannot digest cellulose so must eat large amounts of bamboo in order to gain nutrition.

  • Where do red pandas live?

    Red pandas are found in the Himalayas, in Nepal, Bhutan, China and small parts of India. Their habitat is temperate forest where bamboo is plentiful.

  • Are red pandas bears?

    Red pandas are not bears. They belong to their own unique family – Ailuridae- and are probably most closely related to the group that includes weasels, raccoons, skunks.

  • Are red pandas dangerous?

    Red pandas vigorously defend their territory so could be dangerous to humans if their territory feels threatened.

  • How long do red pandas live?

    10 years in the wild, up to 15 years in human care.

  • How many red pandas are left in the world?

    It is difficult to estimate but it could be less than 10,000 mature adults. The population has decreased by about 50% over last 18 years.

  • What family is the red panda in?

    There has been much debate over the classification of red pandas. Red pandas were originally placed in the same family as the raccoon and they have a similar bushy tail. Later they were classified with the giant panda. Following genetic studies, they are now placed in their own family.

  • How big are red pandas?

    The head and body is up to 60 cm long. The tail is up to 47 cm long.

  • How much does a red panda weigh?

    Males weigh up to 6.2 kg and females weigh up to 6 kg.

  • What are red pandas related to?

    Red pandas belong to their own unique family – Ailuridae- but are relatively closely related to mustelids such as weasels, skunks etc.

  • What is a red panda's habitat?

    Red pandas are found in the Himalayas, in Nepal, Bhutan, China and small parts of India. Their habitat is temperate forest where bamboo is plentiful.

  • What sound does a red panda make?

    Red pandas are generally quiet but communicate by squeals and twitters.

  • Are red pandas related to raccoons?

    Red pandas were originally placed in the same family as the raccoon and they have a similar bushy tail. Following genetic studies, they are now placed in their own family, but they are relatively closely related to raccoons.

  • Are red pandas nocturnal or diurnal?

    Red pandas are nocturnal but are most active at dusk and dawn.

  • Are red pandas related to giant pandas?

    There has been much debate over the classification of red pandas. Red pandas were originally placed in the same family as the raccoon and they have a similar bushy tail. Later they were classified with the giant panda. Following genetic studies, they are now placed in their own family. The superfamily that red pandas now fall into (Musteloidea) is related to Ursidae (same infraorder).

  • How long does a red panda live for?

    Red pandas live 10 years in the wild and up to 15 years in zoos.

  • What do red pandas do for the environment?

    They could be considered an umbrella species. They also spread seeds and plant species during feeding and traveling.

  • Why should we save red pandas?

    Saving red pandas is important for global biodiversity. The forests where they live are the lungs of South Asia and vital for combating global climate change.

  • How do red pandas communicate with each other?

    Red pandas communicate by scent marking. They indicate readiness to breed by urinating or rubbing scent glands located at the base of the tail. They mark their territory using scent glands located between the footpads.

  • How many babies do red pandas have?

    Red pandas can have between 1 and 4 young, but 2 is the average number of cubs per litter.

Hide