Red pandas are small mammals with long, fluffy tails and red and white markings. Though they share a name with the more famous giant panda, they are not closely related. In fact, the name ‘panda’ was first applied to these animals, and not to the larger black-and-white bear.
Classified as endangered, there are fewer than 10,000 in the wild with the largest threats listed as poaching and loss of habitat. It’s estimated that there’s been a 40% decrease in numbers over the last 50 years alone.
Here Are Some Interesting Facts About Red Pandas.
Although classified as a carnivore, red pandas mainly eat bamboo leaves, and they eat a lot of it! This is because red pandas can digest only about 24 percent of the bamboo they eat. They also eat grass and fruit and occasionally an egg, insect or small animal.
2. They are slightly bigger than a domestic cat.
But their tails add as much as 18 inches to their length. Red pandas live solitary lives in trees, high up in the mountains, so they wrap those big, bushy tails around themselves to keep warm. (They also use them for balance.)
3. Red pandas aren’t pandas.
Despite their name, red pandas aren’t actually closely related to giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), but it wasn’t until the last ten or fifteen years that scientists settled upon just where red pandas fit on the evolutionary tree of life. It was clear that red pandas were members of the taxonomic “infraorder” Arctoidea, placing them in a group with bears, pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walrus), raccoons, and mustelids (weasels, skunks, otters, and…