Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)


Family:                    Procyonidae.

Status:                     Endangered.

Size:                        Length 1.5 to 3 ft.; weight 6 to 10 lbs.

Diet:                        Omnivore.

Characteristics:        Nocturnal, shy.

Area:                       Asia.

Offspring:                One to four, once per year.

Predators:               Snow leopard, yellow-necked marten.



·       The red panda is the national animal of Sikkim and the mascot of the International Tea Festival in Darjeeling.

·       It’s also known as Lesser Panda, Cat Bear, Bear Cat, Wah and Red Bear Cat.

·       Their fur-covered soles reduce slipping on wet branches as well as heat loss in snow.

·       The red panda’s Latin name means “fire-coloured cat” or “shining cat.”

·       Red pandas can jump up to five feet from branch to branch.


This gentle, quiet little panda is a mild-mannered, curious animal. They live alone, in pairs or in small family groups. They live high in the mountains and are agile tree and rock climbers, but do most of their feeding on the ground at night. During the day, they sleep stretched out on a branch high up in a tree. Bamboo leaves are their primary food source, but they also eat berries, fruit, nuts, roots, mushrooms and sometimes mice, birds and eggs. The panda holds the food in a forepaw and brings it to his mouth while sitting, standing or lying on its back. When threatened, the red panda stands on its hind legs and gives a sharp hiss or a series of snorts and swipes the air with its semi-retractile claws, to scare away predators. Approximately the size of a large cat, it has a small, teddy bear-like face, with markings similar to that of a raccoon. In fact, it was placed in the same family as raccoons because of similarities in teeth, skull and their ringed tail, but some scientists believe it should be placed in the Ursidae (bear) family because of DNA similarities. Recently, it was proposed that red pandas should be given their own family, Ailuridae.



Red pandas are found at high altitudes in the temperate forests of the Himalayas between 7,000 to 16,000 feet in elevation, as well as the mountains of northern Burma, Nepal, western Sichuan and Yunnan. The temperature ranges from 10 to 25° C. The red panda can withstand colder temperatures than giant pandas.



Mating season lasts from January to March, during which time the female is in heat for 14 days. She gives birth to 1 to 4 (but usually no more than 2) cubs sometime between May and June, in a tree cavity or rock crevice lined with grass. After birth, the mother cleans her cubs immediately. She remains with them for 60 to 90% of the time during their first few days, only leaving to forage for food. To be able to provide her cubs with milk, the mother has to eat three times her usual amount of bamboo. The cubs are blind at birth and their eyes open by the 18th day. By the 90th day, the cubs leave the nest for the first time, at night. They begin to eat solid food in the autumn and are weaned by winter. They’re fully grown by 12 months, and will leave their mothers during the next few months, when the next litter is born. The maximum lifespan of the red panda is 8 to 10 years in the wild, 14 in captivity.