Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Red Pandas

 

January 1, 2019 | View PDF



The Red Panda is endemic to the Himalayas in Bhutan, southern China, India, Laos, Nepal and Burma. The Red Panda is the state animal in the Indian state of Sikkim.. Red Pandas look quite different to the Giant Pandas, they more resemble the appearance of a raccoon or weasel type animal.

The Red Panda is also known as the ‘Lesser Panda (Wah), Cat Bear’, or ‘Firefox’. Being called a ‘Wah’ is because of its distinctive cry. Red Pandas are most closely related to the raccoon and are now in a family of their own. Most can be found in the temperate forests of the Himalayas and some high mountain areas of China and Myanmar Burma. Red pandas have soft, dense fur that protects them from cool temperatures. The fur on the upper side of the animal is reddish-brown in color while its underside and legs are black. The soles of the Red Pandas feet are covered with white fur. The Red Pandas compact face and the borders around the ears are primarily white. The red panda has reddish brown mask-like markings over the eyes and dense, furry tail alternately marked with reddish and light brown rings. Their tail really does resemble that of a raccoons. The Red Panda has semi-retractile claws and like the Giant panda, has a false thumb which is really an extension of the wrist bone. Red pandas live in remote mountainous areas of the Himalayas in dense forest and bamboo thickets. The forests have a dense under story of bamboo and small trees. Red panda habitat temperatures usually fall between 10 – 25 degrees centigrade. Red pandas also inhibit elevation ranges from 6,000 – 12,000 feet. Just like the giant panda, the red panda is a bamboo eater and its diet is mainly bamboo. During summers, the red panda may feed on fruits, mushrooms, leaves, grasses, roots, fruits, lichens and acorns. Although considered herbivorous, the red panda will occasionally take birds eggs and it is speculated that they may eat mice and birds on occasions. Because the nutrient level of bamboo is so low, the Red panda has a slow metabolism and spends a good part of its day foraging. The Red panda is nocturnal and is mostly active in the early morning and late afternoon spending most of the day resting in trees conserving their energy as their bamboo diet has a low energy content. Red pandas are normally solitary creatures; however, they form pairs in the breeding season. Red pandas appear to be territorial. Red pandas use glandular sacs in their anal regions which produce a scent which they use to mark territorial boundaries by rubbing their sacs on various objects in the wild. Additionally, they may also mark territory by using regular defecation sites. Red pandas have a mild, non-aggressive disposition. When Red Panda cubs are born in the spring .male red pandas do not share the raising of the cubs, it is completely left to the mother red panda to raise and care for the cubs herself. Red pandas can live up to 14 years in captivity. It is not sure, however, how long they actually live in the wild. Red Pandas are listed as endangered. The major threats to the red pandas are loss of habitat due to deforestation and forest fragmentation. Red Pandas are often killed for their coats to make fur hats and clothes. Because of the growing human population in China, Red Panda habitats are being cleared to build houses.

 

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